Friends of a 75-year-old Cookstown missionary working in west Africa say that divine intervention saw her escape serious injury after being shot twice by bandits.
Co Tyrone nurse Maud Kells was hit in the ribs and shoulder in an armed robbery in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday night.
But supporters said last night that “God’s protection” was at work, as Ms Kells escaped without any broken bones or serious muscle damage.
Her miraculous escape comes just days after the veteran missionary was honoured with an OBE in the New Year Honours list for 40 years of medical and educational services to the people of the west African state.
She first arrived there in 1968.
Norman Cuthbert, Irish co-ordinator of missionary organisation WEC which supports Ms Kells, said: “Maud is an amazing lady. She is very tough – not the type to be thrown off easily.”
The bandits struck the small missionary compound at Mulita where Margaret lives, shooting her twice in her home, he said.
She was flown from her remote compound, which is only accessible by light aircraft, to the nearest hospital at Nyankunde – almost two hours away – where she was found to have escaped without any broken bones or serious muscle damage.
“We would see that as God’s protection on her in the circumstances,” said Mr Cuthbert.
“The bleeding has stopped and she is in pain but she is stable and we believe she will be healed.
“To get two bullets in the ribs at age 75 and come out of it as well as she has is amazing.
“A lot of us put it down to God looking after her. She has a very strong faith.”
Ms Kells’s sister, Margaret Keane from Cookstown, said it was “a bit of a shock” to hear the news yesterday.
“She has no broken bones and no muscle damage,” she confirmed.
“She is speaking and drinking water and recognises the people around her. She is a tough lady.”
It is not known if the armed bandits injured anyone else during the raid.
“It could have been a lot worse,” added Ms Keane.
:: The included video shows Ms Kells speaking in the Congo in 2013.