To Them, This is the Enemy (Update: Three Arrested in Italian Nun's Death)

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 18, 2006 11:47 AM

This is the enemy:

Sister Leonella Sgorbati attends the SOS Day celebrations in Somalia's capital Mogadishu in this 2005 file photo. Gunmen killed the nun at a children's hospital in Mogadishu Sunday in an attack that drew immediate speculation of links to Muslim anger over the Pope's recent remarks on Islam.

The enemy's life:

Sister Leonella, whose birth name was Rosa Sgorbati, had lived and worked in Kenya and Somalia for 38 years, her family said...

In Mogadishu, Halima Hassan said Sister Leonella was a "kind person who loved mothers and children. We have lost a great person."

These are the enemy's friends, and must be treated as enemies, too:

Fellow Italian nuns of slain Catholic sister Leonella Sgorbati line up to board the plane carrying her body as all the nuns working at the SOS hospital were evacuated from Mogadishu Saturday.

These are the people the enemy helps.

Somali friends of late nun Leonella (only first name available) wait at the hospital, Sunday.

This is what the enemy did in life:

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says that the hospital gives free medicine to more than 300 women and children each day.

Many are those who have travelled to Mogadishu to escape fighting elsewhere in the country, which has not had a central government since 1991.

The enemy has been struck before:

The only free hospital in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has closed after medical workers went on strike because of threats from gunmen.

Hundreds of women and sick children gathered outside the SOS Hospital, pleading for medical attention.

Many were shrieking with pain. The patients inside were evacuated.

The gunmen were sent to the hospital three weeks ago by the family of a woman whose womb was removed during a life-saving operation.

This is how the enemy met her end:

Sister Leonella, 65, was shot in the back four times by pistol-wielding attackers as she left the Austrian-run S.O.S. hospital at lunchtime after finishing nursing school for trainee medics. Her bodyguard was also slain.

These are the last words of the enemy:

Sister Leonella, 65, muttered the words "I forgive, I forgive" in Italian after being shot by gunmen Sunday, the Rev. Maloba Wesonga told The Associated Press at a memorial Mass for the nun in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The body of late nun Sister Leonella in the hospital. 


We are dealing with an enemy who thinks this woman was a combatant-- a valid, 65-year-old, habited target on her way from curing the ailments of Somalian women and children to eat lunch with her other elderly combatant friends.

God rest her soul. She was much, much braver than her assailants.

Update: Three arrested in nun's slaying:

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has arrested three men in connection with the killing on Sunday of an Italian nun working at a hospital in the south of the city, a security official said.

"We have three men in custody; one is a suspect in the killing and two are being held as witnesses," Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, the UIC security chief, said on Monday from Mogadishu.

He said security forces were hunting for a "second gunman who is suspected of involvement in the killing".

The motive remains "unclear." Uh-huh.