Three elderly Italian religious sisters have been killed at their convent in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi.
The Xaverian missionaries were named as Lucia Pulici, 75, Olga Raschietti, 82, and Bernadetta Boggian, 79. Their bodies were discovered at separate times over Sunday and Monday.
“It’s a completely unexpected episode, an enormous pain,” Father Mario Pulcini, superior of the Xaverian missionaries in Burundi, told the missionary news site MISNA.
The diocese of Parma, Italy, believes two of the sisters may have been victims of an armed robbery “by a mentally unbalanced person”, but the motive for the killings is not yet known. Police in the city say they have detained two suspects, according to Reuters news agency.
In 2011, a Croatian woman religious and an Italian aid worker were killed in a botched robbery in northern Burundi, the BBC reports.
Burundi is one of the world’s poorest nations and has been struggling to overcome the legacy of a 12-year civil war between rival ethnic groups.