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Beloved lay missionary murdered in Somaliland

60 year old Italian missionary Dr Annalena Tonelli was killed on Sunday night in her home in Borama, Somaliland, the Missionary News Service report.

The motive for the killing is unclear. Rome-based missionary news agency MISNA says she was shot dead, but no property was missing.

Annalena had been living in Somalia for over 30 years. She originally founded a long-stay hospital and an orphanage in the port city of Merca, before moving to Borama in the self-declared autonomous province of Somaliland, an hour by air from Djibouti.

In Borama, she reopened the hospital and local clinics for the prevention and cure of tuberculosis. In addition to medical assistance, she also founded literacy schools for children and adults with tuberculosis, courses in health education for paramedics and a school for deaf and dumb and physically handicapped children.

Last year she received the title of 'Commendatory' from the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, while in April this year she was awarded the prestigious 'Nansen Refugee Award' for her humanitarian work with refugees.

Recently she had said to a friend: "God has given me the ability to overcome every problem, I have never considered turning back".

The news of her killing has been met with grief, dismay and indignation in Somaliland. President Dahir Riyalew Kahin has condemned the crime, describing the missionary doctor as "a great hero" and saying the perpetrators would be captured and punished.

On 22 October 1995, another Italian voluntary worker, Graziella Fumagalli, was killed in Merca, where she had directed the anti-tuberculosis hospital run by Caritas Italiana since 1994. Annalena's body is expected to arrive in Nairobi this afternoon, from where it will be flown back to Italy.

Independent Catholic News

Killing of lay missionary: she will be laid to rest in her African land of Wagir (MISNA)
Killing of lay missionary: Monsignor Andreozzi, "We must not lose hope" (MISNA)
Award-winning aid worker slain at Somali clinic (AP)
Gunman kills Italian aid worker beloved for her work in Somalia (Seattle Post)
Mantica's condolences for Annalena Tonelli (AGI)
U.N. Lauds Woman's Work for Somali Poor (15/4/03)
Annalena Tonelli receives Nansen Refugee Award for work with Somalis
Congratulations to Miss Annalena for the Nansen Refugee Award (The Somaliland Times)

8 Oct 2003