Kaduna (Nigeria) Two people were killed and 15 others injured in northeastern Nigeria, during a suicide attack that the government has blamed on the Boko Haram.
Around 9:00 am on Friday, three explosions rocked Madagali, a former base of the terrorist in Adamawa state. The blasts occurred near a military checkpoint at the entrance of the town. Many people had gathered to be screened before entering Madagali on the weekly market day.
Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP the blasts were carried out by female suicide bombers. “Two people were confirmed dead and 15 others injured. Four female suicide bombers exploded and died. “The fourth bomber was shot by soldiers and exploded while heading towards her target,” he added.
Some reports claim one of the suicide bombers had a baby strapped to her back, but this information has not yet been confirmed at the time of this report.
Sambisa Forest is across the border in neighboring Borno state, the well-known Boko Haram training ground and hideout, has seen fiercest battles in the conflict with the militants since 2009.
The Nigerian military said last month it had retaken control of the forest. It is “strongly” believed Boko Haram fighters who were pushed out of their strongholds in the Sambisa Forest were behind Friday’s explosions.
Boko Haram fighters are also known to have been holed up near Madagali in the Mandara mountains, which separate northeast Nigeria and Cameroon.
Madagali has repeatedly been a target of the Islamic group. Vanguard news reported,
it was the third successive bomb blast in the last two months in a town that suffered so much loss during the peak of the insurgency. The incident has caused anxiety among residents. They maintained that more attacks could happen if the authorities remained beclouded in the euphoria of the acclaimed victory over the sect.
On January 5, three teenage girls were shot dead at a checkpoint in the remote town on suspicion of planning a suicide attack.
On December 9, at least 45 people were killed in two suicide bombings at the busy markets in Madagali, a year after a similar strike killed 17.
Suicide attacks, particularly by young women and girls, have been a regular feature of the conflict since mid-2014, even when Boko Haram held swathes of territory in the northeast.
Checkpoints, bus stations, mosques, churches, schools and markets have been targeted repeatedly since the start of the insurgency in 2009 to inflict maximum civilian casualties.
Much of the international media reports have been sharing the claim of the Nigerian government that the Boko Haram has been defeated. But those living in the crisis invite journalists from around the globe to come to Nigeria and report from their communities. One of VOP‘s sources said, “Maybe then the headlines will finally reveal the truth of our ongoing suffering. Maybe then the world will take notice.”
Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency has killed over 20,000 people, displaced more than 2 1/2 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis. The U.N. says 5.1 million people in Nigeria are facing starvation.
Please keep our Nigerian brothers and sisters at the forefront of your prayers. Please continue to pray for there protection, emotional distress and peace that will allow them to go home.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning, my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Dear brothers and sisters, be encouraged. Our times are in His hands. You can fully trust our Almighty God to be faithful.
For further encouragement click here
One week after she receives Christ, Muslim relatives leave her to die.
(Morning Star News) – Muslim relatives of a young woman in eastern Uganda who put her faith in Christ at a Christmas service coerced her into taking poison at a New Year’s celebration, she said.
Sandra Summaya, 24, of Bugayi village in Pallisa District, told Morning Star News that she converted to Christianity at a worship service on Christmas Day.
“I had great peace when the pastor prayed for me to take Jesus as my savior,” she said. “I later shared my testimony with my brother, who outrightly accused me of being an infidel and an outcast from the family and the Muslim community. I felt great pain inside me because of the insults.”
On Sunday (Jan. 1) Summaya’s immediate family and a few other relatives gathered in the predominantly Muslim village in Kamuge County to celebrate the New Year with a meal. At the high point of the gathering, Summaya said, a paternal uncle read to her a Bible verse and suggested it meant God would protect her from harm, including illness from ingesting poison.
“He said, ‘Do you believe that Issa [Jesus] is able to protect your from poison as written in the Bible?’ and I answered ‘Yes,’” she said. “Immediately I was forced to take the poison to confirm my faith in the Bible, at around midnight. I could not deny the Bible, so I took the rat poison.”
Soon she became seriously ill.
“I started having severe stomach pains together with vomiting and cried for help,” she said. “I was taken away from the homestead to a nearby bush. I was tied with a rope to a tree and left to die.”
Her loud cries woke a Christian neighbor who rushed to the site.
“I found Summaya unconscious, and we rushed her to a Kamuge nursing home, where the doctor saved her life,” said the neighbor, whose name is withheld for security reasons.
Summaya remains at the hospital and her condition has stabilized, a nurse told Morning Star News.
“She will still be in the hospital for some few days as we monitor her situation,” said the nurse, who requested anonymity.
An area source requested prayer that Summaya be healed and protected, and that she not doubt God’s love and provision.
The incidents are the latest in a series of anti-Christian attacks in eastern Uganda. On Christmas Day Muslims in eastern Uganda beat Christians at a worship service and wrecked the home of a single mother on Christmas Eve, sources said.
On Dec. 8, relatives of a former Islamic teacher attacked his 60-year-old mother for becoming a Christian, wounding her head and breaking her hand, sources said. Aimuna Namutongi sustained a deep cut on her forehead. She and her son, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi, were trying to gather cassava at 10 a.m. on the homestead he had been forced to abandon in Bufuja village, Butaleja District, after Muslim relatives threatened to kill him if he returned.
Higenyi, whom Muslim relatives had beaten unconscious on Nov. 13 after he publically confessed having embraced Christianity, managed to escape the fury of those who arrived at his farm on Dec. 8 while he and his mother were trying to harvest something to eat, he told Morning Star News.
Namutongi became a Christian after visiting her ostracized, injured son on Nov. 26 and listening to his faith journey, a local source said. He has continued to receive threatening messages, he said.
On Oct. 20, Muslims in Kobolwa village, Kibuku District gutted the home of a Christian family for housing two boys who had been threatened with violence for leaving Islam.
Stephen Muganzi, 41, told Morning Star News that the two teenaged boys sought refuge with him on Oct. 16 after their parents earlier in the month learned of their conversion, began questioning them and threatened to kill them. The two boys, ages 16 and 17, had secretly become Christians nearly seven months before.
On Sept. 18, 2016, a Muslim in Budaka District beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service, sources said. Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons.
On Aug. 10, a Christian woman in eastern Uganda became ill after she was poisoned, she said.
Aisha Twanza, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, ingested an insecticide put into her food after family members upbraided her for becoming a Christian, she told Morning Star News. She and her husband, who live in Kakwangha village in Budaka District, put their faith in Christ in January 2016.
In Busalamu village, Luuka District, eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29, 2016 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources said.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.
Mosul (Agenzia Fides) – On Sunday, January 8 the Iraqi regular army regained control of al Sukkar, an area in eastern Mosul once inhabited mostly by Christian families. This is what local sources reported to online magazine ankawa. The area comprises at least 700 homes belonging to Christian owners, some of whom had been occupied by foreign militants of the Islamic State (Daesh).
Many of the homes in the neighborhood had been marked with the Arabic letter “Nun”, the initial of the word Nasara, which means Christian, to indicate that those houses could be expropriated and were available to supporters of Daesh. The houses had been abandoned by Christians since, June 9, 2014, when Mosul had fallen into the hands of the jihadists of the Islamic State. According to reports from local sources, most of the buildings and also the pediatric hospital located in the neighborhood, were destroyed or damaged.
“News from Mosul need our attention”, says to Agenzia Fides father Thabit Mekko, Chaldean priest of the north-Iraqi town, currently displaced in Erbil together with his faithful, “but the situation is still dangerous, there are snipers in roads and it is too early to think about a return of Christians who have fled from their homes. Such a case will be considered only when security is assured. Many families have not yet decided what they will do. Not all those who left Mosul in front of the advance of Daesh will return”.
Meanwhile, Sunday, January 8 was marred by yet another bombing in the district of Jamila in Baghdad. A car bomb in a crowded wholesale market, claimed by Daesh, caused at least 12 dead and 50 wounded.
Pray for our brothers and sisters suffering in Iraq.
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Babu Shahbaz, a Christian from the village of Kamahan, near Lahore, was arrested by the police for alleged blasphemy. As Fides learns, on December 30 a formal complaint was filed to the police against Babu Shahbaz, under Article 295 b of the Penal Code of Pakistan. The complaint came after the Muslim, Haji Nadeem accused the Christian of having torn and thrown pages of the Koran in the street. Shahbaz is illiterate and cannot write.
Babu Shahbaz, 41, lives in the village of Kamahan, is married and has three children. An evangelical Christian who in the past 15 years has organized prayer meetings at his house, and many Christians and Muslims participate in the small home meetings, asking blessings and healing prayer. The local Muslims have shown impatience towards the growing popularity of Shahbaz and therefore have accused him of a false case of blasphemy.
After the complaint, the police stopped the Christian and his family, sending several officers to the village to monitor the situation and prevent possible mass reactions against Christians.
Shahbaz’ family have asked for assistance to the NGO Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) who spoke with the police and ascertained the situation, providing legal assistance to the family.
“The abuse of the blasphemy law continues to attack Christians and other religious minorities”, says CLAAS to Fides. “We hope the story is clarified as soon as possible, otherwise the fate of Shahbaz will be the same as Asia Bibi, Sawan Masih, Zaffar Bhatti and many others who, innocent, have been in prison for years. It is urgent to amend the blasphemy law to prevent abuses. If the government does not change this law, false cases of blasphemy against religious minorities will continue. The blasphemy law violates international human rights treaties ratified by the government of Pakistan”.
(Voice of the Persecuted) American Pastor Brunson needs our encouragement and our prayers. Living with his family in Turkey for 23 years, this American pastor has great love for the Turkish people. He was a pastor at the Resurrection Church in the city of Izmir before his detainment on 7 Oct. under Interior Ministry deportation orders. During a trial on Dec. 9, Rev. Brunson was accused of being linked with a terrorist movement. He was then taken to Izmir’s Sakran 3 Nolu T Tipi Prison. His family and those who know Andrew maintain he is falsely accused. His wife says the news came as a crushing blow, as the family had hoped to be reunited by Christmas.
Please pray his faith remains strong and not discouraged while in prison. Pray doors will be opened to share the Gospel. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage his faith. And pray for Andrews’ wife and family as they are forced to endure emotional hardship without him. For more information about Andrew Brunson CLICK HERE
Thank you to those who are praying and sending messages of encouragement to Andrew. Expressing gratitude, his wife shared, (more…)
Islamist terrorists killed 16 at nursing home.
(Morning Star News) – A Catholic priest kidnapped in Yemen almost 10 months ago appealed for help in a video released this week by a terrorist group.
The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was kidnapped on March 4 in Aden, Yemen when a group of militants, thought to belong to an offshoot of the Islamic State (IS) movement, killed 16 people in an attack on the Aden Care Home, a nursing home facility.
In his statement on the video, which was released on Christmas Day, Uzhunnalil said he was kidnapped, “Because I was working for the Christian religion and the church.”
Uzhunnalil then went on to say he felt abandoned by his religious leaders and claimed that if he were a priest of European descent, his captivity would have been taken more seriously. The priest is a native of India.
“Nothing has been done by Pope Francis or the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contact being made by my captors,” he said. “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life.”
Uzhunnalil implored Christians in his native India to put pressure on authorities by using their “might to help me to safe my life … Please take care of my life.”
Before he was kidnapped, Uzhunnalil was clean-shaven. In the video he had a full beard and appeared weak and out-of-breath. Speaking hesitantly, he said his health was deteriorating and that he was “very sad and depressed.”
Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar of southern Arabia, told Morning Star News that Uzhunnalil appeared to be under duress when the video was made.
“Listening to the video, I got the impression that it has been produced under extreme pressure on Father Tom,” Hinder said.
He declined to comment further, citing ongoing efforts to secure Uzhunnalil’s release.
“It is part of the nature of such dramatic events that the steps undertaken cannot be revealed until their goal has been reached,” he said.
In a press statement on Tuesday (Dec. 27), vicariate officials said the church had made “countless appeals from the highest levels to secure his release.”
“Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal to the kidnappers to release Father Tom on Sunday the 10th of April 2016, ‘In the hope given us by the Risen Christ, I renew my appeal for the liberation of all persons seized in areas of armed conflict: in particular, I desire to remember the Salesian priest, Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped at Aden in Yemen this past March fourth,’” the statement read.
The statement also mentioned the midnight Christmas Mass at the Cathedral Parish of St. Joseph’s in Abu Dhabi, where the bishop and tens of thousands gathered and prayed in silence for Uzhunnalil’s safety.
On March 4 at approximately 8:30 a.m., a group of militant Islamic extremists entered the nursing home in Aden and killed 16 people.
The Catholic news site Crux reported that the single survivor of the attack, a nun known as Sister Sally, said the gunmen first killed a guard and a driver at the home and then moved on to the four nuns. The militants then “tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads” as others in the home screamed for the militants to show the nuns mercy, according to Crux.
The slain nuns were identified as Sister Anselm from India, Sister Judith from Kenya and Sisters Marguerite and Reginette from Rwanda.
The surviving sister escaped the attackers by hiding behind a door in a walk-in refrigerator.
During the attack, Uzhunnalil rushed to the chapel tabernacle in an attempt to consume all the sanctified hosts used in Communion, apparently to keep them from being desecrated, before he was abducted. The militants then set about destroying all the Christian symbols and liturgical articles in the tabernacle. The entire attack and kidnapping lasted 90 minutes, according to the nun.
Since the kidnapping, essentially no information about the safety or whereabouts of Uzhunnalil has been available. Weeks after the kidnapping, Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Cardinal Schonborn claimed publically that Uzhunnalil had been crucified on Good Friday. Photographs, allegedly of Uzhunnalil’s corpse, were circulated as evidence of his death, but research by Morning Star News showed the photos were actually from the funeral of another priest in the region who had just died.
According to indigenous missions support group Christian Aid Mission, .2 percent of Yemen’s 27.4 million people are Christians. Yemen consistently places high in studies ranking countries for their mistreatment of Christians. Plagued by low-intensity conflicts for years, the country plunged into a full-scale civil war in March 2015 along Shia and Sunni lines. Several terrorist groups, including IS and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have taken advantage of the power vacuum that exists in the country and have set up bases of operation.