Bomb hits Salesian sisters’ house in Sudan as war heads into seventh month

Some residents suffered light injuries, but miraculously, according to the description of a priest who was on-site at the time, nobody was killed by the blast.

A bomb struck the house of a mission operated by Salesian religious sisters in Sudan, at 6h50 in the morning of Friday, 3 November, causing serious damage.

Bomb landed in Dar Mariam house, Khartoum, Sudan
Bomb landed in Dar Mariam house, Khartoum, Sudan

According to those who were in the house at the time it is a miracle that nobody was killed by the double explosion that the bomb caused, though some of the residents suffered light injuries. Dar Mariam mission houses five religious sisters – all over 65 years old –, 20 women, 45 children, one priest, one teacher and a group of men, some of whom are old and sick.

In a message sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Fr Jacob Thelekkadan, the resident priest, said that the bomb hit the first floor of the building of the Dar Mariam mission house, in a neighbourhood of Khartoum, the war-torn capital of Sudan, at a time when the children and their mothers were gathered on the ground floor, below.

“We cannot imagine the harm that these explosions would have caused if it landed on the ground floor!”, says Fr Jacob, although one young mother and her two children, aged 7 and 4, did receive light injuries to the head.

Under the providential care of God

Besides the damage to the building, a painting of Our Lady was destroyed by the explosion, with Fr Jacob claiming that “we are certain that Our Blessed Mother wanted to sacrifice herself for all of us. Thus, the beautiful portrait of Our Blessed Mother shattered into pieces. I want to reiterate the continuous provident care of God on all in Dar Mariam! The maternal protection of Our Blessed Mother reigns in Dar Mariam!”

The beautiful portrait of Our Blessed Mother shattered into pieces
The beautiful portrait of Our Blessed Mother shattered into pieces

The first floor, which sustained more serious damage, houses some of the bedrooms. Fr Jacob explained to ACN that the bomb divided when it hit the building, which caused two explosions in different parts of the first floor.

“The first part of the bomb shattered the teacher’s room, hurting him on both his legs, but not very seriously. The second part of the bomb shattered the two rooms of the sisters and their room doors flew off and fell a meter away. Two of the Salesian sisters were in one room and the room door and toilet door fell on them. One of them was injured in the back, though not seriously. The doors probably saved her from the heavy shrapnel of the bomb.”

“The bomb then tore through the brick wall of the toilet, making a large hole, and then through the brick wall of the room of two other sisters who were already in the ground floor chapel. The door of their room, too, flew apart and fell on the floor”, said Fr Jacob. All the injured were taken to hospital, but have already been discharged, and are well.

The war heads into seventh month

Though largely forgotten by the outside world, the civil war in Sudan continues to rage, as different factions of the military fight each other. Peace talks are ongoing. The conflict is just days away from its seven months mark. Estimates vary, but according to the UN Special envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, at least 5,000 people have been killed, and over 12,000 wounded.

Some churches have been destroyed in the fighting, but others have opened their doors to provide shelter and refuge. Although most of the missionaries had to be evacuated, the Salesians sisters are determined to remain with the people they serve. Fr Jacob Thelekkadan was in charge of the St. Joseph Vocational Centre in Khartoum, which had to close because it was in an area of heavy fighting. He decided to stay in Sudan, however, to support the Salesian sisters. “Continue to pray that this senseless and tragic war will come to an end and that God may grant the gift of lasting peace to the Sudan!”, urges Fr Jacob, in his message to all the benefactors of ACN.

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