Islamist thugs set fire to a Catholic mission in Mozambique and shot an 84-year-old Italian nun dead.
Sister Maria De Coppi suffered a terrifying death in the horror attack on the Comboni Mission of Chipene on the evening of 6th September.
Suspected Islamic terrorists raided the missionary compound, setting fire to the church, the nunnery, and the hospital.
Two nuns, from Italy and Spain, and two Italian priests managed to escape the onslaught.
But Sister Maria, from Italy’s Veneto region and a missionary in Mozambique since 1963, was not so lucky.
One of the survivors told how armed jihadists burst into the mission and shot the elderly nun dead.
Sister Angeles Lopez – from Murcia, Spain – told Spanish media: “I was still grateful that they left me alive and free, but they do not accept our religion and what they want is for us to leave.”
She added: “They have burnt a village, emptied another thirty; they have killed old people and cut off heads, sowing terror.”
She described how the area was left “a desert” but added defiantly: “But we have no intention of abandoning the mission, despite the fact that this may be the bishop’s decision, as he has decreed for other areas.”
Sister Angeles and the Italian priests are now safe in Nampula, although she lost her mobile phone and her hearing aids in the raid.
Sister Maria will be buried today.
In an interview with Italian media last year, she had said: “I try to be close to the people, especially by listening to what they tell me.
“Despite material poverty, listening to others remains a great gift, it is to recognise their dignity.”
Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, president of the Episcopal Conference of Italy, said in a statement: “We cry for another sister who with simplicity, dedication and silence offered her life for the love of the Gospel.”
The Islamist insurgency in Mozambique began in 2017 and is being led by groups affiliated to Islamic State and known locally as “al-Shabaab”.
According to a June report by the United States Institute of Peace, the insurgency has killed “hundreds of government security forces and thousands of civilians” to date, “with some 850,000 Mozambicans (including 400,000 children) displaced”.
Mozambique – a former Portuguese colony – was known to be 60 per cent Christian and 19 per cent Muslim in 2017.