VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Africa

Court Drops Charges of Kidnapping, ‘Human Sacrifice’ against Evangelist in Uganda

Church members who prayed for Hassan Muwanguzi in eastern Uganda. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A judge in Uganda last week dropped charges aimed at stirring up Islamist opposition against an evangelist who provides refuge to converts from Islam, sources said.

A court in Tirinyi, Kibuku District on March 13 dropped the charges of kidnapping and “human sacrifice” against Hassan Muwanguzi after the complainant and his attorney twice failed to show up in court, Muwanguzi’s attorney told Morning Star News.

Muwanguzi and his attorney appeared at a court hearing on March 10 at which the judge asked whether the complainant or his lawyer were present. They were not.

“The case was adjourned to March 13, and still the complainant failed to appear in court again when the charges were read against Muwanguzi,” the attorney said.

Muwanguzi told Morning Star News his lawyer then requested the court dismiss the case since there was no public witness.

“The magistrate heard the request of my lawyer, and he said, “The case has been dismissed,’” Muwanguzi said. “Immediately we left the courtroom, and as we got out we saw more than 15 Muslims, some dressed in Islamic attire, enter the court gate. We knew that they had come for hearing of the case.”

His lawyer told Muwanguzi that those arriving were too late, and that he should file a defamation case against them so that he could be compensated, the evangelist said.

“I answered him that as a Christian I will forgive them, just as our master Jesus did,” he said. “He [the attorney] was not content at first, but later he accepted it.”

Muwanguzi, who has suffered life-threatening attacks from jihadist Muslims, said he was thankful for the prayers and support of a pastor in Kibuku District at a time when his fears threatened to overcome him.

“Though I am still fearful from not knowing what the Muslims are now planning, the fears are now reduced,” he said.

Hours after Muwanguzi was released on bail on March 3, an Islamic leader urged village Muslims to kill him, an area source said. Muslims in eastern Uganda’s Kachomo village, Budaka District gathered that day to discuss how to stop Muwanguzi, a lay leader with the Church of Uganda well known in the region for his wide-ranging evangelism, said a source who snuck into the gathering. He said a sheikh (Islamic teacher) had told those present that Muwanguzi should be killed.

In an effort to defame Muwanguzi and stir up Islamist sentiment against him, Nghangha Mubakali on Feb. 26 accused him of kidnapping and making a human sacrifice of his daughter, Muwanguzi told Morning Star News. He said Namusisi Budadu Biryeri, 21, had taken refuge with him after her father beat her for putting her faith in Christ in 2015.

Police on Feb. 27 found her alive, and she told them she had sought refuge with Muwanguzi after her father kicked her out of their home on Nov. 12, 2015, for becoming a Christian that day.

Muwanguzi, a married father of six, has long housed converts from Islam in danger from hard-line Muslims.

Muwanguzi said he was grateful also to a pastor who made several calls to government officials about his arrest.

“Also, I am very grateful for the many church members who prayed for me,” he said. “Though the case has been dropped, I still need prayers because persecution is still going on, and I still have fears since I am taking care of many converts from Islam. I need protection and support for these new converts. I know nothing will separate me from the love of Christ and in serving Him.”

Nigeria Orders Christian Leaders to Cancel Mourning, Prayer Day for Killed Christians

(Morning Star News) – Having warned journalists and Christian leaders to stop speaking out about anti-Christian violence in Nigeria, the government this week also ordered the cancellation of a day of prayer and national mourning for slain Christians, sources said.

Christian leaders here said the day of prayer and mourning planned in churches across the country and abroad on Sunday (March 19) in memory of Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen and others has been suspended on orders of the Nigerian government and security agencies. They said they have been under pressure and threat by government and security officials to cancel the program on claims that it would breach national security.

The Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said in a statement on Wednesday (March 15) that leaders had no other option than to suspend the program indefinitely.

“CAN wishes to inform all Christians, both at home and abroad, that based on credible reports of concern, it has decided to suspend the Christian Day of Mourning formerly scheduled to take place globally on Sunday 19th March, 2017,” Asake said in the statement. “We took cognizance of the preparations that various Christian groups have made to participate in the program, which was designed, in all honesty and sincerity, to mourn the death of thousands of Christians murdered by religious insurgents.”

The suspension of the program was due to “misunderstanding, misinterpretation and subsequent security concerns,” he said. “All Nigerian Christian assemblies are urged to have a normal Sunday worship on 19th March, 2017 but suspend any action on the Day of Mourning.”

Christians should be careful and watchful, the statement added.

In the meantime, we are all urged to remain steadfast and resolute in the grace of God that Nigeria shall overcome the present distress and peace shall prevail all over the nation,” the statement concluded.

Security agencies and the Nigerian government have recently threatened Christian leaders for speaking out against incessant attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Christian communities in central states such as Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Niger, and by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group in northeastern Nigeria.

Earlier this month CAN President Samson Olasupo Ayokunle told the body’s National Executive Committee the failure of security agencies to arrest and charge the assailants in southern Kaduna has allowed the crisis to continue. He decried that killings have continued despite curfews, police presence and other security agencies in the area.

“Recently, a Redeemed Christian Church of God building was burnt down in Dei- Dei, here in Abuja, very early in the morning,” he reportedly said. “What shall we do to these continuous provocations without any visible action by the law enforcement agents?”

On March 6, advocacy group Jubilee Campaign noted at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland that a rising Fulani militancy has succeeded Boko Haram as the foremost violent threat in Nigeria. At a press conference at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, panelists said the alarming increase in militarization in north and central Nigeria has resulted in the death of 4,000 people in the past three years.

“The rising militia is made up of members of the Fulani ethnic tribe. Therefore, they are referred to as the Fulani militants,” Jubilee said in a March 8 statement. “These militants have launched systematic attacks on farming communities that are predominately Christian. During their attacks, they kill villagers, raze homes, and destroy farmland. Many times, they then move in to occupy the attacked village.”

Mark Jacob, former attorney general of Kaduna state, said at the event that Nigeria needed outside help because the government has proven unwilling to protect its citizens.

“We keep complaining, the government appears to be uninterested in what we are saying, and that is why one of the reasons we are here is to ask for intervention,” Jacob said.

Please remember our Nigerian brothers and sisters in your prayers. Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution. If you would like show your love and support for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution, please support our Nigerian mission project, today.

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 orphan-306x4601them. 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

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!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed

Islamic Extremists in Somalia Kill Secret Christian, Her Son, Wound Husband, Sources Say

Photo: Wiki Commons

(Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists in Somalia identified as Al Shabaab rebels last month shot to death an underground Christian woman and her son and seriously wounded her husband, sources said.

The family was asleep at their home at dawn in Afgoi, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Mogadishu, when at least four armed men attacked them on or around Feb. 10 shouting the jihadist slogan, “Allah Akbar [God is greater],” and, “We cannot allow the defiling of our religion with a foreign, Western religion,” said family head Suleiman Abdiwahab.

The 38-year-old secret Christian, a convert from Islam, is recovering from gunshot wounds to his chest near the right shoulder.

“The gunmen fired several shots, then destroyed the door with a big metallic object and then were able enter into the house,” Abdiwahab told Morning Star News. “They randomly shot at everyone.”

The assailants killed his wife, 35-year-old convert Faduma Osman, and the couple’s 11-year-old son, Ahmed Suleiman. The couple’s two daughters, 13 and 7, and their 9-year-old son were able to escape out a backdoor and have found safe shelter in another town, sources said.

Neighbors found the three shot family members lying in their blood. Discovering Abdiwahab still alive, they took him to a local hospital, and he was later transferred to Mogadishu for specialized treatment, he said. Afgoi is located in Somalia’s Lower Shebelle Region.

Al Shabaab, which has been battling government forces for more than 10 years, has taken control of farming areas surrounding Afgoi, sources said. Since the beginning of the year the rebels have briefly taken over the city three times, with Somali government forces driving them out each time, they said.

Afgoi is thus under control of the Somali government but is vulnerable to Al Shabaab attacks. The insurgent militants, the Somali cell of Al Qaeda, have retreated from major cities but still control some rural parts of southern and central Somalia. The past few years Al Shabaab has lost ground to government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping forces.

Abdiwahab, the wounded family head, has been relocated to a shelter in another town, a source told Morning Star News.

“Abdiwahab, due to the blessings of the lord, has survived and is currently recovering from serious gunshot wounds,” he said.

Somalia is second only to North Korea on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.

The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda adhere to the teaching.

Somali law and societal tradition create an atmosphere of hostility toward non-Islamic faiths similar to that created in regimes that execute apostates. The country’s Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) does not explicitly prohibit Muslims from converting to other religions, but leaving Islam remains socially unacceptable in all areas, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest Report on International Religious Freedom (2015).

The PFC provides for the right of individuals to practice their religion but prohibits propagation of any religion other than Islam, and it makes Islam the state religion. All laws must comply with the general principles of sharia (Islamic law), the report states.

PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS IN SOMALIA

By PHCM TERRY C. MITCHELL (http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil/ (DN-ST-93-02604.JPG)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By PHCM TERRY C. MITCHELL (http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil/ (DN-ST-93-02604.JPG)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

(Voice of the Persecuted) Read: Hebrews 13:13 – So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Since the downfall of Ziad Barre in 1991, Somalia has become a safe-haven for Islamic militants. Christian converts
from Islam in the country have been facing a great deal of persecution. The mere suspicion of one’s having renounced Islam leads to a rushed public execution. Martyrdom is very common.
.
PRAY: Today, we pray for our persecuted family in Somalia. Lord, protect and provide. Meet their needs and show them Your everlasting hope. You are the God of shalom; Lord, bring peace. – Amen
.
Please do keep our persecuted brothers and sisters in the nation of Somalia and your prayers.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

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.

Donations are always desperately needed.

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!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

EGYPT – Another Coptic Christian found dead in northern Sinai

Egypt-christian-attack

(Agenzia Fides) – A 40-year-old Coptic Christian was found dead with a gunshot to the neck, in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish, capital of Northern Sinai, on Thursday, February 23. The body was found inside his home, which had been set on fire. This is the third Coptic Christian killed in Al Arish in the past 48 hours, and the seventh murdered in the Sinai Peninsula in the last two weeks.

On Wednesday, February 22 the authorities found the bullet-riddled body of a Christian about 65; his son also died with him, burned alive by jihadists. On February 12, some masked men on a motorcycle gunned down a Christian veterinarian, while he was at the wheel of his own car. In late January, a 35-year-old Christian officer was killed.

In recent days, in a video posted on the Telegram messaging site, the Islamic State had promised to strike the Christian community, defined by jihadists as “the preferred prey”. Among these, the most serious was the suicide bombing on  December 11 against a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, which caused 29 victims.

A priest says 1,000 Christians have fled, with some receiving threats on their mobile phones

Hundreds of Christians have fled the city of el-Arish in Egypt after a spate of attacks by suspected Islamic militants.

A priest told the Associated Press that he and some 1,000 other Christians had fled for fear of being targeted next. He blamed lax security, saying: “You feel like this is all meant to force us to leave our homes. We became like refugees.”

It was earlier reported that militants had shot dead a Coptic Christian man, Kamel Youssef, in front of his wife and daughter. The account had been given by two officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

A priest in the city said militants then kidnapped and stabbed his daughter before dumping her body near a police station. It wasn’t immediately possible to confirm his account. Read More

Sudan Orders Demolition of at Least 25 Church Buildings, Christian Leaders Say

Khartoum, Sudan

Khartoum, Sudan

(Morning Star News) – State officials in Sudan plan to demolish at least 25 church buildings in the Khartoum area, according to Christian leaders.

A June 13, 2016 letter from the Executive Corporation for the Protection of Government Lands, Environment, Roads and Demolition of Irregularities of Khartoum State reveals the names and locations of 25 church buildings marked for demolition, most of them in the Sharq al Neel (East Nile area) locality of Khartoum North. The government reportedly claimed the churches were built on land zoned for other uses, but Christian leaders said it is part of wider crack-down on Christianity.

The Rev. Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu, moderator of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church’s (SPEC) Sudan Evangelical Synod, told Morning Star News the subsequent order was part of a systematic attack on churches by the Islamist government.

“This is not an isolated act but should be taken with wider perspective,” he said.

The order targets a wide range of denominations, from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal.

The Sudan Council of Churches denounced the order at a Feb. 11 press conference, calling on the government to reconsider the decision or provide alternative sites for the churches. The Rev. Mubarak Hamad, chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, said at the conference in Khartoum that mosques located in the same area were spared from the demolition order.

Hamad said the order was aimed at 27 church buildings, including a Presbyterian Church of Sudan in Jebel Aulia, and one belonging to the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) in Soba al Aradi, both south of Khartoum.

The order by Mohamad el Sheikh Mohamad, general manager of Khartoum State’s land department in the Ministry of Physical Planning, urged that it be implemented immediately.

“I am hereby issuing the order of demolition of the churches that are attached to residential areas and public playgrounds in neighborhoods of East Nile locality,” Mohamad wrote in a cover letter dated June 20, 2016 to the Executive Corporation.

Among the 25 church buildings listed are three located on public playgrounds; the rest are located in residential areas, according to the order.

Last Sept. 29, officials from Khartoum state’s Ministry of Planning and Urban Development notified leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan (PCOS) that they had 72 hours to vacate their property. The church building was one of five that officials at that time said were slated for demolition to make way for investor development.

“We were surprised as a church at such a move,” a member of the church told Morning Star News at that time. “The church building has been there since 1991We are still worshiping there but fearful of the demolition any time.”

The church, whose Sunday attendance ranges from 80 to 150 people, declined to vacate as they had no alternative site for worship, he said. The letter from state officials asserted the land on which the church building was situated was designated as private property for gardens.

Three Sudanese Church of Christ congregations, along with one belonging to the Episcopal Church of Sudan, also received demolition notices on Sept. 29.

Sudan since 2012 has bulldozed church buildings and harassed and expelled foreign Christians, usually on the claim that the buildings belonged to South Sudanese. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

The government’s decision to issue no new church building licenses came after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, when President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

After bulldozing a Lutheran Church of Sudan (LCS) building on Oct. 21, 2015, authorities in the Karari area of Omdurman demolished an SCOC building on Oct. 27, 2015 without prior warning, church leaders said. Local authorities said the SCOC building was on government land, a claim church leaders adamantly denied.

Karari officials in Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum, reportedly authorized the demolition of the church building claiming it was built on government land allocated for a field. In the demolishing of the LCS church on Oct. 21, the local authorities said it was built on land allocated for business, though a mosque stands nearby.

Ethnic Nuba have long suffered discrimination from the Arab population and authorities of Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum, including neglect, persecution and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Sudanese authorities on Feb. 17, 2014 demolished another SCOC church building in Omdurman without prior notice. Bulldozers accompanied by local police and personnel from of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) destroyed the worship building in the Ombada area of Omdurman, sources said.

On Aug. 24, 2014, NISS agents padlocked the building of the 500-member Sudan Pentecostal Church (SPC) in Khartoum, which housed the Khartoum Christian Center (KCC).

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2016 report.

Hope for victims of the Nigerian conflict claiming more lives than Boko Haram

In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalised in a December attack. World Watch Monitor

In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalised in a December attack. World Watch Monitor

The two Nigerian villages are barely five minutes’ drive apart. In one, Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt, shops vandalized, carcasses of animals littered the streets and most of the village remains deserted. The other, Dangoma, remains intact, untouched by the shadows of violence.

Goska and Dangoma both lie in the Jema’a area of southern Kaduna in Nigeria’s Middle Belt; however, Goska is an indigenous community that is predominantly Christian, while Dangoma is a settler community, mostly Fulani and Muslim.

A Goska resident confirmed the attack in December to a researcher for World Watch Monitor

There seems to be a worrying pattern. The contrast between Goska and Dangoma after last December’s attack “is a metaphor for the violent conflict in southern Kaduna,” a researcher in Nigeria, who did not wish to be named, told World Watch Monitor.

Similar violent conflicts are affecting many other local communities across Kaduna State, and most are deliberate, well organised and executed, he added.

The selective nature of the conflict can be seen in the way individuals and families, towns, properties and communities are targeted: where indigenous Christians and settler Fulani Muslims live side by side, Christian homes are attacked while Fulani Muslim settlers are left alone.

Many experts now believe that this Middle Belt violence is responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram, which in 2016 experienced both internal splits and external military defeats by the Nigerian Army.In response, the local and federal governments have launched a range of military initiatives, while a local Catholic diocese is embarking on the painstaking work of dialogue and reconciliation.Following an attack on the convoy of the Kaduna Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, in December, a 24-hour curfew was declared in three Local Government Areas, empowering the security forces to protect lives and property, as World Watch Monitor reported. It has since been scaled back to a 12-hour period (6pm-6am) and covers just one area, and the state government has introduced measures to forestall any future violence.

Meanwhile the federal government ordered the Nigerian Army to establish a base in southern Kaduna. The chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, gave assurances to local leaders that the army was there not to take sides but to restore peace.

As part of the peace measures, the federal government has also given approval for the building of another military barracks in southern Kaduna, in Kafanchan in the Jema’a area.

In the diocese of Kafanchan, the Catholic Church says that over 800 died between 2011 and the end of 2016. Many groups and individuals, including Peter Bawa, the Chairman of the Northern Christian Youth Assembly, have commended Governor El-Rufai for initiatives taken so far, believing that they will go a long way to curtail the menace of herdsmen who have plunged many communities in the area into mourning.

However, some of southern Kaduna’s indigenous population interviewed by World Watch Monitor felt the government was militarising the conflict. Military force is sometimes used in conflict as the first and not the last resort, often without civilian engagement.

For instance, according to Environmental Rights Action of Nigeria in its book Blanket of Silence: Images of the Odi Genocide, then-President Obasanjo responded to the 1999 civil unrest in the town of Odi in Bayelsa State by sending in “27 five-ton vehicles loaded with over 2,000 troops, four armoured personnel carriers … three 81mm mortar guns and two pieces of 105mm Howitzer Artillery guns, and they killed a total of 2,483 people”.

The violent activities of Boko Haram since 2009 were also followed by the deployment of the military, a civilian joint-task force, various local vigilantes, and hunters. Yet the conflict has escalated and not ended. Sending military to southern Kaduna may not provide a solution.Other critics have faulted the government for positioning the new barracks in Kafanchan, where so much bloodshed has occurred, saying they suspect the Kafanchan base is meant to protect a “settler” chief, who is not accepted by the indigenous people.

Locals told World Watch Monitor that there is a cry for the building of genuine community engagement, and against policies that enhance social exclusion, marginalisation and injustice, and for dealing with these. It is important, say those involved, to give victims, women and children a voice, otherwise the conflict is only suspended, not ended.

In response to all this, the Kukah Centre, a mediating institution set up by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassaan Kukah, has initiated a project on Memory and Healing in Southern Kaduna. The centre is committed to promoting shared national identity and citizenship as a bedrock for healing, peace and stability in southern Kaduna, and to that end is documenting victims’ memories of the conflict. Using inter-group dialogue and community engagement, it provides a platform for victims and ordinary people to be heard.

Some activities to begin next month include a high-level consultation with the Kaduna government, supported by the independently-run National Peace Committee. The centre is also planning 10 community engagements in four Local Government Areas badly affected by the conflict: Sanga, Jama’a, Kauru and Kaura. The groups of participants will cut across socio-cultural, religious and political divides.

Additionally, victims will be enabled to recount their stories in 10 focus-group discussions and five roundtable conversations with organisations such as Southern Kaduna’s Women’s and Youth Forums, Jamaatul Nasri Islma, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, Muslim Youth Forum of Southern Kaduna, Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and Young Professionals Forum.

The Kukah Centre is also planning to build memorials for victims of the conflict.

Achieving an end to the conflict has benefits beyond the humanitarian goal of ending the spectre of burnt-out homes and animal carcasses rotting in destroyed villages. Last year, the aid agency Mercy Corps said that if peace came to just four Middle Belt states – Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau – Nigeria would stand to gain up to US $13.7 billion annually in total economic progress.

Uganda: Pastor and Others Missing after Muslims Beat Men and Rape Women in Congregation

The Rev. Musa Mukenye pleads for Christians to forgive Muslim assailants . (Morning Star News)

The Rev. Musa Mukenye pleads for Christians to forgive Muslim assailants . (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A pastor in eastern Uganda and eight other Christians are missing two weeks after a Muslim mob attacked a church prayer meeting, locked the congregation in, beat several members and raped 15 women, sources said.

The approximately 90 Muslims broke into the evening prayer meeting of Katira Church of Uganda, in Katira village, Budaka District at about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 and beat them with clubs and sticks, area sources said. Previously Muslims had only thrown stones at the roof of the church building to disrupt church services of the 500-member congregation, villagers said.

At the evening service, about 80 members were present, and among those who escaped before the doors were locked was a Christian who heard one of the assailants shout, “Away with the pastor who is converting our Muslims to Christianity,” a church leader said.

Pastor Moses Mutasa had been outside questioning some visitors unknown to the church when several others arrived shouting, “Away with the pastor,” and he fled, said the Rev. Musa Mukenye, who oversees several churches in the district’s Iki-iki County.

“We do not know what has happened to our pastor, Moses Mutasa,” Pastor Mukenye told a meeting of local officials, police and other security officers. “He might have been killed or has been kept hostage.”

The assailants locked about half of those in attendance inside the building, (more…)

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