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(Voice of the Persecuted) On Tuesday, Boko Haram Islamist militants killed 69 people during an attack on Faduma Koloram village in the Gubio area of Borno state. Many sustained gunshot wounds with 12 succumbing to their injuries on Wednesday, bringing the total casualties to 81. Nearly a dozen, including women and the head of the village, were said to be abducted.
Witnesses say the terrorists came in cars and on motorcycles killing residents at will in an attack that lasted 2 hours. Women and children fetching water were surrounded by the attackers and heinously gunned down. Livestock were either killed or carries away. The entire village was razed when homes were set ablaze as the militants left.
The community has witnessed deadly Boko Haram attacks in the past. Residents were armed and had been able to repel some of their attacks. However, this one took them by surprise.
After 11 years, the Islamist terror group remains a constant threat to communities in northeast Nigeria. Tens of thousands have been killed in their brutal attacks with over 2 million people displaced in the country.
Please pray for Nigeria.
Philippines (Morning Star News) – A grenade attack near a Catholic cathedral and radio station in the southern Philippines on Sunday (Dec. 22) could have been aimed at a military advance team for a presidential visit as much as the Christian sites, according to local reports.
The grenade explosion injured at least eight soldiers and six civilians in Cotabato on the island of Mindanao, according to reports. Police stated the grenade was thrown near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, seat of the archdiocese of Cotabato, and the radio station owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Mass-goers huddled in the cathedral upon hearing the explosion and the ensuing brief gunfight between soldiers and the assailants. They later returned to worship, but a service scheduled for 6:30 p.m. was cancelled, parish priest Zaldy Robles told Minda News.
“It is sad that this kind of violence is happening while we are celebrating the holy Christmas season,” Robles told the news outlet. “Let us not let the reign of darkness rule over us.”
He added that it was fortunate the grenade was not thrown into the worship service. In 2009, a bomb attack at the same cathedral in Cotabato killed five civilians and wounded dozens of others.
After Sunday’s grenade attack, a second blast a short distance away injured a passer-by, according to Vatican News.
Explosions in two cities also in the same diocese’s territory, Libungan in North Cotabato and Upi in Maguindanao, hit shortly after the attack in Cotabato, and the military suspected the Islamic State-aligned Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in all the blasts, according to reports. Earlier security forces had reportedly recovered and de-activated two Improvised Explosive Devices on Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato, near the cathedral.
It was unclear if the wounded soldiers were guarding the cathedral or were part of an advance team for the visit of the president scheduled for the following day. Minda News reported they were part of the security apparatus assigned to the cathedral during the Christmas season, while another news outlet quoted a Western Mindanao Command spokesman as saying the grenade was aimed at a military vehicle of the Division Reconnaissance Company deployed in advance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit on Monday (Dec. 23).
Mindanao is one of five provinces that came under the Muslim rule of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), confirmed in a Jan. 21 referendum. The BARMM was formed from a peace deal with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but the BIFF and Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf rebels were excluded from the agreement.
While the military suspected the BIFF in the attacks, some speculated the assailants could have been other opponents of the BARMM. Whether one or the other, Duterte called the attackers terrorists.
While the peace agreement calls for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to take over administration of the BARMM, the Philippine government exercises full control over the police and military.
Islamic State-affiliated terrorists were blamed for twin suicide bombings at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu Province on Jan. 27, which killed at least 22 people and wounded more than 100. Jolo is a small island off the coast of Mindanao.
Members of Abu Sayyaf, which claims allegiance to Islamic State, reportedly aided the Jan. 27 attack and turned themselves into authorities. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año stated on Feb. 1 that Islamic State-affiliated terrorists were responsible for the twin suicide bombings.
Islamic State representatives took responsibility for the bombings in online postings shortly after the explosions, one inside the cathedral on Jolo, and another about 12 to 15 seconds later outside the doorway. Año said two Indonesian suicide bombers, one who went by the nom de guerre Abu Hud and his wife (unnamed), were guided by local rebels from Abu Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf had rejected the peace deal that created the BARMM as it preferred the region belong to a broader southeast Asian caliphate.
Sunday’s violence follows a bomb attack on a shopping mall in Cotabato earlier this month that killed two people and wounded 35 others, also attributed to Islamic State-affiliated terrorists.
According to the government’s peace deal with the rebels, 2019 is a period of transitioning from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the new BARMM (adding “Bangsamoro,” or “Nation of Moros,” moros being a colloquial term for Muslims) government.
Under the agreement, MILF rebels were to surrender their estimated 50,000 weapons to the government.
(Voice of the Persecuted) It is with a heavy heart to report on Resurrection Sunday that a massacre has taken place targeting Christians who were attending worship services at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and Zion Church, in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka. At the time of this report, the latest update from police claim that at least 207 were killed and at least 450-500 injured in 8 explosions by suicide bombers at the churches, Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels. Viewer Warning: below video content graphic
The majority of casualties are Christians and the death toll and numbers injured are expected to rise. Earlier, the government said they suspected the suicide bombings were carried out by one group. Finance Minister, Mangala Samaraweera said,
The bombings are not the doings of a fanatical individual. It’s obviously a highly coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem and anarchy in the country.
The Defence Minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, said seven people have been arrested in connection with the attacks. Three police officers were killed in an explosion during a raid pertaining to the attacks.
The government has temporarily blocked social media sites to prevent false news that’s spreading on social media sites. Officials claim the ban will be lifted when their investigations are concluded.
Please remember the injured and families of victims in your prayers, today. Continue to pray for persecuted believers worldwide.
UPDATE: 9:19 p.m. EST
Sri Lankan Defence Minister described the bombings as a terrorist attack by religious extremists, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility. — Thirteen people have been arrested.
News outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported it had seen documents showing that Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches”.
“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ [National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka] is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” the alert said, according to AFP.Mr Wickremesinghe said there was not an adequate response and there needed to be an inquiry into how the information was used.
Read full abc.net.au report here
UPDATE: 4-22-2019 Sri Lanka officals: Islamic militants targeted Churches and Hotels
Jakarta has raised its alert status to the highest level, in the wake of suicide bombings that hit three churches. The blasts killed at least 13, including six suicide bombers, and wounded 43 others, in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday morning.
The first explosion took place at the Santa Maria Catholic church followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later.
Police chief, Tito Karniavan, told reporters it is believed that a family of six, a husband and wife and their four children aged between nine and 18, had carried out the worst attack the country has seen in more than a decade.
At approximately 7.30 am when parishioners were heading into the churches for Sunday services, the blasts occurred within minutes of each other.
The Guardian reported that police identified the mother as Puji Kuswanti and said that she and her two daughters,12 and 9 years old, bombed the GKI Diponegoro church [using waist-bombs]. At the same time, the family’s two teenage sons, 18 and 16, rode motorcycles close to the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church, where they detonated their [lap-bombs]. Dita, their father, drove a car bomb into the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church. Media reports claim that the explosion at the Pentecostal church was the biggest compared to the other two bombings.
Karniavan said he suspected the family had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, where hundreds of Indonesians have traveled to join Islamic State, including entire families. Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks through its media agency, Amaq. However, at the time of this publishing, no evidence has been produced to support the claim.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo condemned the attacks as barbaric.
In a circular distributed to police stations in the capital, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis said,
“Following the bomb attacks, all areas in the Jakarta Police’s jurisdiction have been placed under the highest alert status until further notice.”
PAKISTAN 9/2/2016 (Voice of the Persecuted): Four suicide bombers were killed when they attacked a Christian neighborhood “Christian colony” in the city of Peshawar around 6am on Friday morning. According to Fides Agency, it began when Samuel Masih, a Christian and security guard at the church, was killed by the terrorists. They also reported two other Christians, employed as civilian security officers, were injured. Unconfirmed reports claim the group intended to attack military and school targets, but chose to attack the Christian Colony instead.
Contacted by Fides, Fr. Riaz, a Catholic priest and pastor for five years in Peshawar, recounts those moments:
“The four militants were stationed outside the Colony. They waited for the gate to open and allowed Samuel to get out, who had to go to work. Then they started shooting, killing Samuel and entered the colony. In the crossfire, our two civilian security guards were injured. But they gave the alarm and called for reinforcements. soldiers arrived who continued the gunfight with the terrorists. Two of them were killed by the army. Two others blew themselves up, since all four had suicide vests, destroying a house where they had taken shelter. But there were no other victims”.
“I went to the spot where the attack took place, people are afraid, we are mourning Samuel’s death. About thirty Christian families live in the colony, and among these ten are Catholic. They are simple people, most of them work as cleaners in public offices. They are people with a strong faith: we will overcome this”.
“The Taliban indiscriminately hit civilian and military targets, schools and families: they want to destroy peace and have visibility, threatening institutions. We will remain united in protecting social and religious peace. As Christians, we will do our part, praying and working peacefully, building peace in our daily lives every day”concludes Fr. Riaz.
The attack comes three weeks short of the third anniversary, September 22, of an attack by twin suicide bombers on the Christian community at the All Saints Church in Peshawar. 600 parishioners were having lunch on the front lawn of the church when two explosions occurred, leaving the church scattered with body parts. TTP Jundullah, linked to the Taliban, said it had carried out the attack on the Christian congregation, saying, “We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.” More than 100 people were killed and over 150 injured. Outside the church, one of the suicide bombers was stopped by the police and detonated his explosives there. The other detonated the bomb inside the church.
Earlier in March 2013 an entire Christian community in Lahore was burned to the ground after one of the residents was accused of blasphemy.
On March 15 2015, two blasts took place at 2 churches during Sunday service in Youhanabad, a town of Lahore, Pakistan. At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks. The bombers tried to enter the churches but were stopped by the guards at the gate and blew themselves up.
This year on Easter Sunday, suicide bombers attacked a park in Lahore as Christian families gathered after church services. At least 74 died, including 29 children: the group said it had “targeted Christians celebrating Easter”.
The above accounts are only a portion of attacks against Pakistani Christians.
Please pray for the injured and the grieving family of Samuel Masih. Please remember Pakistani Christians in your prayers and pray changes will come for their security and protection. Pray for peace and their persecutors.
Syria (AINA) — A suicide bomber disguised as a priest attempted to enter an Assyrian genocide commemoration event in the al-Wusta district of Qamishli but was stopped by Assyrian forces. The bomber detonated his bomb outside the hall, killing himself and three members of the Assyrian Sutoro security forces and wounding five. It is believed the bomber was targeting Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who was leading the commemoration.
The explosion occurred at the intersection of al-Quwatli and El-Kindi Park road in a neighborhood heavily populated by Assyrians. According to AssyriaTV, the 5 wounded Assyrians have been identified as Gawriye Ado, Riad Habsuno, Marios Malke, Fayez Farman and Siwar Hassan. The deceased have not been identified.
This is the fourth attack on Assyrians in Qamishli in the past six months:
- May 22, 2016: an attack by ISIS in the Assyrian al-Wusta district of Qamishli, Syria killed at least five persons, three of them Assyrians, and injured more than a dozen.
- January 24, 2016: Two explosions rocked an Assyrian neighborhood in Qamishli. The first targeted the Star Cafe, where a bomb was placed on a bicycle that was left in front of the store. The explosion killed 3 Assyrians and injured 20. The second blast targeted Joseph Bakery.
- December 30,2015: Three explosions targeted Assyrian businesses in Qamishli, 16 were killed.
No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Yesterday, bomb blasts ripped through Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park in Lahore the capital city of the province of Punjab,Pakistan. It is also known as a children’s park due to the funfair. Christian worshippers commonly gather at the park as part of their Easter celebration. At last count, approx 70 people were killed and over 150-200injured. The death toll is expected to rise. Many of the victims were women and children. Islamic Jihadists have claimed responsibility for the attack and admitted it was meant to target Christians though both Muslims were also killed.
Brothers and sisters, we invite you to join us tonight in prayer as we convene to pray for those impacted by this terrible tragedy. A Pakistan Christian who lost a family member during the attack and another was seriously injured, in critical condition, will also be on tonight’s call. Call info is below.
Your brother in Christ,
Serving Jesus as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch
Persecution Watch is a teleconference prayer call that regularly convenes Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. Tonight will be a 911 call.
9 p.m. Eastern
8 p.m. Central
7 p.m. Mountain
6 p.m. Pacific
Call number and access code are…….
Sudan (Morning Star News) – The Sudanese Air Force bombed more civilians in South Kordofan state this week, killing a Christian man and injuring a 13-year-old girl, an area source said.
As part of what area Christians believe is President Omar al-Bashir’s campaign to rid the country of Christianity and the ethnic Nuba people, a government jet on Monday (Feb. 10) dropped three bombs on Damardago village, killing a Christian identified only as 30-year-old Timotuos, the source said.
Timotuos was a member of the Sudanese Church of Christ, as are two others who sustained burns and other injuries in the bombing, 13-year-old Zaienab Jebril Turomba and 27-year-old Salim Kuku, according to the source, who requested anonymity. There is no military installation near the area, but Sudan has been bombing civilian populations it believes support the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) since 2011.
Sudan has ramped up bombings in the past few months; the 93 bombs dropped on civilian areas in December was more than the those of October and November combined, according to online news portal Nuba Reports. In January Sudan dropped at least 120 bombs on civilian populations, according to Nuba Reports, run by aid worker Ryan Boyette, who remained in South Kordofan after his Christian humanitarian organization was forced to evacuate when military conflict escalated in 2011.
The December spike in bombings came as civil war broke out in South Sudan, driving people in South Sudan refugee camps to return to Sudan.
“The ongoing violence threatens to permanently strand the displaced peoples between two civil wars,” according to Nuba Reports.
Many of the bombs have hit Buram County, which includes the road to South Sudan’s Yida refugee camp, the news site notes.
On Jan. 27, bombing of Gendolo village in the Yabus area of Blue Nile state killed a Christian girl, 11-year-old Turki John Adam, and seriously injured her mother, Mamata Yama Bolu, according to ReliefWeb, a service of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Sudan’s new Sukhoi-24 fighter jets, supplied by Belarus, are able to drop parachute bombs with more accuracy than standard bombs, according to Nuba Reports.
On Monday (Feb. 10) Sudan dropped a total of nine bombs in the Dar area of Buram County, South Kordofan, where there are no military installations. On Sunday (Feb. 9), worship services were disrupted in Heiban, in South Kordofan, when a Russian-made Antonov plane dropped six bombs that hit houses on the edge of town; the homes had already been deserted, the source told Morning Star News.
“The situation in the Nuba Mountains is very bad,” he said.
On Saturday (Feb. 8), Sudan dropped six bombs on the predominantly Christian area of Aberi in Dalami County, South Kordofan, at 11:30 a.m., the source said. Previously bombs have targeted markets and homes, but this time the bombs hit fields and houses, the source said, without reports of casualties.
A bomb attack on Nov. 17 killed two children in south Kordofan. On March 19, 2013, two civilians were killed and 12 seriously wounded when government planes dropped bombs on them (see Morning Star News, March 27).
Since April 2012 Sudan has dropped 1,491 bombs on civilians, according Nuba Reports. Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
Thousands of civilians have taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.
The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The growing rebel movement in the Nuba Mountains has sparked tensions, and Sudan reportedly bombed civilians in the South Sudan state of North Bahr El Ghazal on Nov. 20-22, 2012, killing seven.
Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.
In a non-binding referendum in late October 2013, 99.9 percent of the people of the Abyei Area in South Kordofan voted to become part of South Sudan.