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Italian nun killed in Somalia: Islamic forces suspected September 18, 2006

On September 17, unidentified gunmen in Somali shot and killed an Italian nun working there, in an attack that observers suspect may be linked to the Islamic outrage against public comments by Pope Benedict XVI.

Sister Leonella Sgorbita, who had worked in Africa for about 40 years was shot in the back near a hospital in the south of the city. Her assailants promptly fled.

Sister Sgorbita was one of the Catholic missionaries with the longest record of service in Somalia, a country that has been plagued by political chaos, internal fighting, and abject poverty. "She was an outgoing person who would be committed to a goal to its end," said Sister Josephine Berber on behalf of the order.

Members of the Consolata order to which Sister Sgorbita belonged to have flown her body to Nairobi, where it is to be buried at the Consolata Shrine in city on September 20. The Union of Islamic Courts, which controls Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia, is reported to have arrested two suspects in connection to the murder. Since 1991 when the Somalia's national government collapsed, the country in the horn of Africa had been broken up into patched controlled by rival warlords. In a situation bordering on anarchy, Christians have often been the targets of violence and intimindation in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. The Islamic Court Union has established some semblance of law and order in the nation's former capital city, but militia members serving various warlords still wander freely through the streets of Mogadishu.