Vatican Denounces Nun's Murder in Somalia
"A Terrible Incident," Says Spokesman

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2006 ( ).- The Vatican's spokesman denounced the killing of 66-year-old Sister Leonella Sgorbati in Somalia's capital, which her order refrains from linking to Benedict XVI's recent commentary on Islam.

Two armed men shot and killed the Consolata Missionary and a Somali bodyguard today in the SOS Kindergarten Hospital in Mogadishu, reported Reuters.

"It is a terrible incident ... we hope it will be isolated," said Father Federico Lombardi to the Italian news service ANSA.

"I think it is the fruit of violence and irrationality, arising from the current situation, which is without motive or reason," added the Jesuit priest.

A sister of the Consolata Missionaries in Italy said in statements to Reuters that the congregation has "no reason" to believe that the Italian nun's murder took place in protest against Benedict XVI's discourse on Tuesday at the University of Regensburg.

Speculation has arisen in the media, however, in light of an appeal launched on Saturday by a religious leader of Mogadishu to all Muslims to revenge the interpretation given to the Pope's words.

Sheikh Muktar Robow, deputy security chief of Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS), said in a statement to Missionary International Service News Agency: "We condemn the killing of the nun."

"It was barbaric and contrary to the teachings of Islam," he added.

Leonella Sgorbati is a native of Piacenza in northern Italy. She had been working in Somalia since 2002, where she trained nurses at the children's hospital.

Today's killing was the latest in a series of slayings of foreign aid workers in Somalia, including Italian Annalena Tonelli in 2003, a Catholic who had spent 30 years fighting tuberculosis among the Somalis, and a Swedish journalist, Martin Adler, who was shot dead in June during a demonstration in Mogadishu.