Story highlights Al Qaeda: “This is not … our way of fight” Gunmen handcuffed victims, then shot them each in the head
Of four nuns killed, two were from Rwanda, one from India and one from Kenya
(CNN)An al Qaeda umbrella group is denying links to an attack that killed 16 people at an elderly home founded by Mother Teresa in Yemen.
Gunmen raided the building Friday, handcuffing victims and shooting them in the head. The attack at the facility run by Catholic missionaries in the port city of Aden left four nuns dead, the Vatican reported.
The nuns were part of a group founded by soon-to-be-sainted Mother Teresa. Two were from Rwanda, one was from India and the fourth one was from Kenya.
Militant group: ‘It’s not our way of fight’
Ansar Al-Sharia, an umbrella group for al Qaeda militants in Yemen, said it is not responsible for the attacks. It warned journalists to avoid reporting that it is responsible. “Our honorable people of Aden, we Ansar Al-Sharia deny any connection or relation to the operation that targeted the elders house,” the group said in a statement Sunday. “This is not our operation and it’s not our way of fight. ” It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack.
The unusual statement stands in a sharp contrast with previous responses from al Qaeda and other terror groups, which have proudly claimed responsibility for other attacks.
Pope condemns attackers Pope Francis sharply rebuked the gunmen and urged a resolution.
The Pope “prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue,” Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said.
Months of violence
The impoverished Muslim nation has faced violence for years, some of it tied to al Qaeda elements that call it home.
What in the World: The casualties of war in Yemen
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What in the World: The casualties of war in Yemen 03:26
The latest round of unrest started in 2014 amid angry protests by Houthis, a minority Shiite group that’s long held sway in northern Yemen, but hasn’t had much influence in the Sunni-led government. The Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace in January last year, forcing out President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi on the way to taking over Sanaa, the capital city, and other areas. But Hadi returned, aided by warplanes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and others that joined to battle Houthis last March. Those strikes have continued months later, as has the bloodshed. The fighting is taking a “terrible toll” on Yemenis, said spokesman Rupert Colville for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.
In January, he reported over 8,100 casualties, including 2,800 deaths. That number is expected to go up when new numbers are released.
CNN’s Greg Botelho, Schams Elwazer and Yousuf Basil contributed to this report