Johannesburg – An Italian nun was killed in Mozambique as her missionary compound came under attack from “terrorists” who set fire to a church, her religious order said on Wednesday.
The Comboni Missionary Sisters said assailants had killed sister Maria De Coppi as they entered the nuns’ quarters in the group’s Chipene mission in Mozambique’s northern Nacala diocese on Tuesday.
“The mission of Chipene … was attacked by terrorists,” the religious group said in a statement.
“They killed a sister … destroyed and set fire to the church, the house of the Sisters, the hospital and the mission’s cars”.
Mozambique’s restive north has suffered a spate of jihadist-related attacks in recent years.
But the Nampula region where the religious mission is located had so far been spared the worst of the violence, which has focused on the neighbouring Cabo Delgado province.
The Comboni sisters said two other nuns, one Italian and one Spanish, “managed to escape and hide in the forest” with a group of young girls.
Two priests also managed to flee, their Italian diocese said.
Italian media reported De Coppi was in her mid-80s, and had been working in Mozambique since the 1960s.
The mission housed dozens of people who had fled their homes because of the jihadist insurgency that has been raging in gas-rich Cabo Delgado since 2017, according to Italian press reports.