Djibouti (Fides Service) – “It was an execution. Nothing to do with a robbery” Bishop Bertin of Djibouti, apostolic delegate in Mogadishu, tells Fides referring to the murder of Annalena Tonelli on Sunday 5 October at Borama, Somaliland, Somalia. Mgr Bertin had just returned from Hargheisa hospital morgue where the body of the Italian doctor was taken. He gave more details about the attack. “Doctor Tonnelli was leaving the hospital with two friends, she was in the grounds of the clinic for TB patients which she opened. It was 8.30pm and it was dark. Suddenly one or more people were seen hiding in a dark corner of the garden and one fired at Annalena from not more than two or three metres distance, only one shot wounding her fatally in the head. Her doctor friends gave immediate first aid but to no avail her condition was serious. They attempted an operation and the local people came forward to donate blood, but Annalena died at about nine fifteen” the Bishop told Fides Service.
“The killing was a targeted ambush to eliminate someone who was not wanted. Annalena was sincerity in itself: when she said yes it was yes, when she said no it was no. She found herself fighting what I would dare to call Mafia, and she fought with the power of Christian witness” Mgr Bertin continued.
Somali authorities have arrested two suspects for the murder of the Italian volunteer. “One of the suspects used to work at the hospital but he was fired for dishonesty by Annalena. The other man had been refused a job at the hospital because he was known to all to be corrupt. Both men could have acted out of revenge, but I would not exclude other motives, such as Muslim extremism” the Bishop said. “In fact Annalena was against the practice of female genital mutilations and she fought this evil together with the local Muslim authorities who firmly denounce the custom as contrary to the Koran. Annalena was not a visionary who acted alone, she was well inserted in the context where she lived and worked. Her hospital even has a Koran school where child patients can continue their lessons while being treated for TB.”
“Now the main concern is to carry forward the work of Annalena and I hope this will be possible with the help of the Friends of Annalena Association which has supported her for years” Bishop Bertin concludes. LM (Fides Service 9/10/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 455)