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Longtime Humanitarian Killed in Somalia

October 6, 2003

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ An award-winning Italian humanitarian worker who spent more than three decades helping Somalis has been shot and killed, officials said Monday.

Annalena Tonelli, 60, was shot by a gunman at around 8 p.m. Sunday outside the tuberculosis hospital she ran in the northwestern town of Borama, said Abdulkadir Suleman Ali, a local government official.

``The man waited for Annalena Tonelli outside one of the tuberculosis wards in the hospital under the shade of a tree,″ Ali said by telephone. ``The man fired two rounds from a pistol at her forehead.″

The motive for the killing was not known and no one has been detained in connection with the shooting, Ali said.

Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said the U.N. agency was devastated by Tonelli’s death.

Tonelli had worked with Somalis in Somalia and neighboring Kenya for 33 years, setting up clinics to fight tuberculosis and creating awareness about AIDS and the harmful effects of female circumcision.

A lawyer by training, Tonelli worked independently, raising money from friends and family to run her tuberculosis hospital in Borama, where she had worked since 1996.

In June, the High Commissioner for Refugees presented her with this year’s $100,000 Nansen Refugee Award in recognition of her work.

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