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Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists have executed five Nigerian men in Borno state, with one executioner saying it was a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity,” according to a video posted on Wednesday (July 22).
Three of the men shot to death from behind on the video were identified as Christians by a resident of Borno state, where the executions apparently took place.
In the 35-second video posted on YouTube by Eons Intelligence before it was removed, the three Christians kneel blindfolded by red cloth alongside two others believed to be Muslims while five men armed with AK-47 rifles stand behind them.
“This is a message to all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity,” one of the executioners says in the Hausa language, translated by Morning Star News. “We want you out there to understand that those of you being used to convert Muslims to Christianity are only being used for selfish purposes.
“And that is the reason whenever we capture you, they don’t care to rescue you or work towards securing your release from us; and this is because they don’t need you or value your lives. We therefore, call on you to return to Allah by becoming Muslims. We shall continue to block all routes [highways] you travel.
“If you don’t heed our warning, the fate of these five individuals will be your fate.”
The speaker than commands, “Bisimilah [Go on],” and the five men are shot dead.
The Borno resident (name withheld for security reasons) identified three of those killed as Christians. He said Ishaku Yakubu, an aid worker from Chibok with Action Against Hunger, was a member of the Church of the Brethren (EYN); Luka Filibus, an aid worker from Monguno with the International Rescue Committee, was an EYN member; and Joseph Prince, a private security firm worker, was a member of the Redeemed Christian Church in Maiduguri.
In a previous video recorded on June 21, Prince and Filibus identified their captors as members of Khalifa, a term used by prior captives for a Boko Haram splinter group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
In the prior video, Prince says: “My name is Joseph Prince, and I’m a staff member of Halogen [a private security firm]. I was traveling from Maiduguri to Monguno on official duty on June 1, 2020, when I was captured by Khalifa soldiers at 11:37 a.m. As of today, June 21, 2020, the date this video is being recorded, I’m still being held captive. I plead with my organization to please secure my release.”
In the prior video, Yakubu says: “My name is Ishaku Yakubu, and I work with Action Against Hunger. I was captured on June 8, 2020, while I was traveling from Monguno to Maiduguri. I plead for my organization, Action Against Hunger, to kindly secure my release.”
Filibus, the third Christian victim, in the prior video says: “My name is Luka Filibus, and I work with the International Rescue Committee in Munguno Local Government Area. I was captured by Khalifa soldiers on June 3, 2020, while I was on my way to Maiduguri. I plead with my organization, International Rescue Committee, to kindly secure my release.”
Action Against Hunger and the International Rescue Committee confirmed the deaths of their workers in press statements condemning the executions.
A statement from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari indicated that the other two men executed worked with Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency and a company called Rich International.
Through spokesman Garba Sheu, Buhari sent condolences to the families of those slain and said the government will do all it can to ensure that “every remaining vestige of Boko Haram is wiped out completely from northeastern Nigeria.”
“President Buhari also condoles with the State Emergency Management Agency, Action Against Hunger, Rich International, and International Rescue Committee, whose staff have suffered this gruesome fate,” Sheu said. “He thanks them for their continued dedication and service to the victims of Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria.”
In January ISWAP executed Christian university student Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) who was kidnapped on Jan. 9 on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.
ISWAP in 2016 broke off from the rebel terrorist group Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri.
On Jan. 20, Boko Haram terrorists executed the Rev. Lawan Andami, district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, Adamawa state, and father of eight children.
Edward Kallon, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, expressed shock and horror at the killings, saying of the victims, “their safety and securing their safe release have been our highest priority since they were captured in June.”
“These checkpoints disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and heighten the risks for civilians of being abducted, killed or injured, with aid workers increasingly being singled out,” Kallon said. “I strongly condemn all violence targeting aid workers and the civilians they are assisting. I am also troubled by the number of illegal vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes.”
The U.N. has repeatedly called for an end to such blatant violations of international humanitarian law, he said.
“I implore all armed parties to step up their responsibilities and stop targeting aid workers and civilians,” Kallon said. “At a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels, it is unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed.”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Nearly six years after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a high school in northeastern Nigeria, the Chibok area in Borno state is under threat of “annihilation” from the rebel group and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), area leaders said.
While 112 of the kidnapped girls remain in captivity, Boko Haram abducted another 22 people in the predominantly Christian Chibok area in December, according to a statement from the Kibaku Area Development Association.
“The Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA) wishes to cry out and put it on the record that we are being targeted for attacks and annihilation, whether at home or wherever we are,” Dauda Iliya, head of the association, said in the statement issued from Abuja on Feb. 3. “Our people and homelands are in danger. Our homes, farms, barns, and places of worship are destroyed. We are unable to exercise our religious freedoms as we prefer. Our very existence is under grave threat.”
Iliya said 11 parents of the girls kidnapped in 2014 have been killed in subsequent attacks, and eight other parents have died from post-traumatic disorders such as heart conditions related to the abduction of their daughters.
“Of 20 Chibok girls’ parents – our kinsmen and women – who are now deceased, 11 were killed during the Boko Haram attacks, eight died of heart conditions as a result of trauma, with those alive subsisting with various degrees of heart conditions and trauma along with their resultant effects,” he said.
Among the 22 people kidnapped in December, five were abducted in the nearby Kwarangilum community in a Boko Haram attack on Christmas Eve, with the rebels burning down houses and carting away live cattle, sheep, goats and chickens, he said.
“Five days later on the 29th of December in Mandaragrau, 17 Chibok indigenes were kidnapped,” Iliya said. “We also do not notice much effort by the government to permanently end the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism, and restore peace in our homelands in particular, and the northeast in general; nor the return of our 112 daughters held in captivity for close to six years.”
The area has been under constant attack by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, for 10 years, he said.
Boko Haram terrorists on Feb. 18 attacked two predominantly Christian communities in Chibok County, Kwarangilum and Forfor villages, residents said.
“The terrorists [simultaneously] attacked the communities around 6 p.m., shooting indiscriminately and burning down houses,” Maina Kapi told Morning Star News by text message. “Please, your prayer is needed because today Boko Haram entered Kwarangilum area of Chibok.”
Habakkuk Aboki, another area resident, said Islamic extremists also attacked another part of Chibok County in January.
“In January 2020, two Christians were killed in Payasatan-Bilaburdar village, also here in Chibok,” he said by text message.
Confirmation of the killings and names of the victims could not be obtained from the area, which is subject to frequent communications blackouts.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.
Kenya (Morning Star News) – Suspected members of Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab intercepted a bus in northern Kenya on Friday (Dec. 6), separated out those who were not local ethnic Somali Muslims and executed them, sources said.
The Medina Bus Co. vehicle en route from Nairobi to Mandera had 56 people aboard when it was intercepted at 5:30 p.m. between Kutulu and Wargadud in Wajir County, where the population is largely ethnic Somali Kenyans, sources said. A witness who escaped told a Morning Star News contact that the assailants separated out 11 Kenyan workers from the interior (assumed to be Christians) from local residents, assumed to be ethnic Somali Muslims.
“One of the Muslim men gave me Somali attire, and when the separation was being done I went to the side of the Muslims, and immediately we were told to get into the bus,” the survivor told the Morning Star News contact. “As the locals were getting back into the bus, the non-locals who were left behind were fired upon with gunshots.”
The bus was stopped as the workers were returning to their station in Mandera, he said.
“I think the attackers were monitoring our travelling all the way from Nairobi,” he said. “The militants knew that we were not armed.”
Two of the victims were teachers identified as evangelical Christians, but their names were withheld pending official notification of relatives, another source said.
“We have lost two teachers who used to attend our church,” the source from a congregation in northern Kenya (undisclosed for security reasons) told Morning Star News.
A third victim was a doctor who belonged to an Africa Inland Church congregation, the source said, and three others were said to be Roman Catholics. The religious affiliation of five other people killed was yet to be determined at this writing.
Al Shabaab, which is waging war against the government of neighboring Somalia, reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying victims included “secret security agents and government employees.”
Official information about the attack was inconsistent. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that several police officers were among eight people killed, and a police source told Agence France-Presse that seven of a total of 10 people killed were officers.
Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab sympathizers have killed several non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.
Al Shabaab militants were suspected in the killing of two Christian teachers on Oct. 10, 2018.
On April 2, 2015, 148 people at Garissa University College lost their lives in an attack by Al Shabaab, and several attacks on churches and Christians have taken place in Garissa, also in northern Kenya.
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.
Somalia is ranked 3rd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.
India (Morning Star News) – Heavy-handed revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood by the government of India three months ago has led to measures used against Christians, sources said.
The government on Aug. 5 revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir state in 1949 that allowed it to have its own constitution. By thus abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A of India’s constitution, the government set back separatist movements within the Muslim-majority state while ushering in security measures that make it nearly impossible for Christian congregations to meet.
Besides cutting off all communications and Internet access and imposing a curfew to forestall an uprising against the measure, the government prevented assembly by issuing an order, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Effective on Aug. 5 in Srinigar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and in Jammu on Nov. 9, Section 144 prohibits assembling of four or more people, with those violating it subject to charges of rioting.
Besides thousands of security forces sent to the area, Hindu extremists have used the order to prevent Christians from meeting for worship, sources said. Based on Section 144, police took pastor Mohan Lal Kaith of the Ranbir Singh Pora (R.S. Pora) area in Jammu District into police custody on Nov. 10 as he led Sunday worship at a congregation member’s home.
Police took him into custody on both Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, releasing him each evening at 6 p.m. after spending the day threatening and intimidating him, he said. Police told him that Section 144 prohibited his congregation from meeting.
“I asked them, ‘If Hindu temples, Gurdwaras [Sikh temples] and mosques, and pujas [Hindu worship] can take place despite the imposition of Section 144, why not Christian prayers? It is the norm, Christians gather and worship on Sundays across the world. Why are you targeting me alone?’” Pastor Kaith said. “But the SHO [Station House Officer] was very angry, and he asked me to plead with the Ram Sevaks [worshippers of Ram] and [Hindu extremist] Bajrang Dal activists for forgiveness, and that I was wrong to question him. I told them, ‘All right Sir, I didn’t know that Section 144 was imposed. Please forgive me.’”
A large mob gathered outside the police station. Relatives present, fearful that the mob might target his small children, begged police and Hindu extremists to free him, the pastor said.
“The Station House Officer of R.S. Pora police station hurled abuses at me that I am a baba [religious guru] in the making, and that I have no idea that he can trap me into a huge case from which I can never get out of,” Pastor Kaith told Morning Star News.
The station officer continued threatening him, telling him repeatedly that he was wrong to lead Christian worship, and that cases against him had already been filed, the pastor said.
“Then I told him that, ‘I have not violated the Indian Constitution, and I abide by every word written in it as framed by its makers. If still you see fault in me, it is fine – you can forcefully frame me in any case that would incriminate me for sharing about Christ, but I will not stop,’” Pastor Kaith told Morning Star News.
He said he had decided to face whatever consequences might follow. The Bajrang Dal and Ram Sevaks had been threatening him three months before the Section 144 order, he added.
“They threatened me and closed down the worship service in my own house, and then in two other areas in the homes of believers,” he said. “How far can they go to stop us from praying and worshipping together? Some of the new believers come to church for healing or for blessings, and when they see opposition from outside, they backslide and don’t turn up again.”
A remnant gathering remains, and they are praying that they would grow stronger in faith, he said.
Pastor Kaith said he has received scores of threats in text messages in the Hindi language over the past six months.
“Every few minutes I received a message that the Bajrang Dal and Ram Sevaks are aware of where I am, and that they are observing me closely, and that I should preach about Hindu gods while sharing about Christ, and that if I failed to do so they would punish me with death,” he said. “The neighbors in the village keep watch on me, and if they see me going out for prayer, immediately the message passes on, and a mob of Ram Sevaks and Bajrang Dal reach there to disrupt the prayer service. They use filthy language, so that we can never have a proper dialogue with them.”
Police filed cases against Pastor Kaith under sections 107 and 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code, suspicion of committing a breach of peace. He has been ordered to appear before a judge on Dec. 9.
Religious Freedom ‘Getting Worse’
The former state of Jammu and Kashmir has a Christian population of 0.28 percent according to the 2011 census, while Muslims make up 68.3 percent and Hindus 28.4 percent of the total 12.5 million population.
Since the repeal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, the state has been divided into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir in the west, and Ladakh in the east, effective Oct. 31.
“It has always been difficult for missionaries and pastors to serve in Jammu and Kashmir region, but the latest move taken by the Indian government abrogating Article 370 has stirred the anger of dominant Islamic community,” pastor Vishnu Dev, based in Punjab state’s Ludhiana District, told Morning Star News.
Islamist Kashmiri separatists and other Islamic extremists groups have also threatened and attacked civilians, hoping to sow chaos in response to the federal clampdown, and Christians are gripped by fear of violence, sources said.
On a recent visit to churches enduring persecution in Jammu and Kashmir Territory, Pastor Dev told Morning Star News that he was shocked to see that Sunday worships took place in secret.
“At the most, five families would gather in a house and would pray in secret. Microphones and large congregations have disappeared,” he told Morning Star News. “It is saddening that the religious freedom situation for Christians in the valley is only getting worse.”
He said Srinagar-based pastor Lance Thomas and his wife are under constant surveillance.
“They have been ministering in Srinagar and other areas of the Kashmir Valley in the toughest times now – they visit believers’ homes and worship inside their homes with Christian families,” Pastor Dev said. “Their movements are closely under the watch by police officials as well as religious extremists in the area.”
Ahead of the repeal of the state’s special status, the central government cut all communication lines and placed political leaders under house arrest to try to head off opposition protests, which have erupted sporadically.
As a result, the region has been without Internet service for more than 105 days.
Srinagar-based Pastor Thomas said both his phone numbers are tapped by government officials.
“I can’t communicate much over the phone right now, and because of the Internet clamp down, it would be very difficult to write an email also, as only one government cyber-café is open,” Pastor Thomas told Morning Star News.
Pastor Jeewer Joeswa of Rajouri District said he also has been hampered.
“In Kashmir Valley, the curfew is still on,” he told Morning Star News. “There are very few churches in the region, and nowhere will you find open worship as a congregation. All Sunday gatherings are done secretly inside a Christian’s home, hiding from the police and neighbors.”
The communications blackout has also been problematic, he said.
“It was a total blackout – we had no access to phone lines or Internet when the government was deciding to abrogate Article 370,” he told Morning Star News. “The connections were restored in Jammu Region in a couple of days, but Srinagar still suffers an Internet clampdown, and we could not reach our pastors and Christians there for weeks.”
Pastor’s Eardrums Injured
In the Jewel area of Jammu, Hindu nationalists seized a pastor from a house-church worship service on Oct. 6 and took him to a neighboring village, where they badgered him with questions and beat him, damaging his eardrums, he said.
Initially two men took him from the service he was leading, pastor Packiya Raj said.
“A mob of 25 strongmen joined the two persons, and they forcefully boarded me in a vehicle and took me to a garage and then to a village nearby,” Pastor Raj told Morning Star News. “They started badgering, ‘Tell us, how many more like you are in Jammu? How many believers did you get here? What are you doing in Hindus’ houses? Where are your believers and pastors, tell us their address?’”
They beat him as they questioned him, he said. After beating him further, they left him at the Domala police station, he said.
“The police didn’t help me, and they told me that prayers should be done inside a church and not at home,” Pastor Raj said. “The police officials told me that it is my mistake that I have gone to someone’s house, and the local people are angered. It is a very natural reaction, they said.”
Pastors from neighboring areas arrived at the police station within about a half hour. They asked officers to file a case against the assailants, who had falsely accused Pastor Raj of adultery, he said.
“They [Hindu extremists] told the police, ‘There were six to seven ladies in the house. We don’t know what this fellow was doing inside,’” he said. “They tried falsely to book a stronger case against me, but by God’s grace my wife and son also reached there, and police didn’t pay heed to these allegations.”
Over the following three days he suffered severe body pains, including pain in his ears, he said.
“The doctors told me that both my eardrums were damaged, and that I should undergo an operation,” Pastor Raj said. “By God’s grace, both the operations were successful.”
He declined to register cases against the attackers, who remain poised to accuse him of assembling for worship in a home, though apart from Section 144 as implemented in the region, home worship is not illegal in India.
“I live in a rental house here, and it is not safe as the people connected to the assailants also live very close by, and I am constantly under watch,” he said. “If I speak any louder, they can hear me.”
Originally from Tirunelveli District in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, Pastor Raj and his wife, Rajakani, had a strong desire to serve among those who have never heard of Christ, he said.
“I was working as an assistant pastor in Chennai when I received the confirmation from the Lord that I should serve the unreached in Jammu and Kashmir. We immediately obeyed and moved to Jammu with our son, who was 1-year-old then,” he said. “After much toil, we now have four to five families in each village. Even among the neighboring houses, there would be at least one person who has heard of Christ and desires to come to Him but is afraid, because of their families and the presence of Hindu extremists in their area.”
In September 2018, while distributing gospel tracts in Amb Grota and Nagbani villages, Hindu extremist Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS) members chased them away, threatening to kill them if they see them again in those areas, Rajakani said.
Elesh Prabhu Vasave, secretary of the Friends Mission Prayer Band of Jammu and Kashmir region, requested prayers for peace to return to Kashmir, and for safety of pastors and missionaries serving in regions stripped off of Internet and phone service.
India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
On Nov. 2, 2018 seven Coptic Christians were killed and others injured after an attack on buses which has been claimed by ISIS on Friday. During funerals that took place on Saturday, mourners expressed grief and outrage that they’re not better protected by the government of Egypt. President Sisi sent condolences to the families and promised an investigation into the attack.
On Nov. 4, Egypt says police killed 19 jihadist suspects linked to Copt attack. see report
Coptic Christians are Egyptian Christians – the word Coptic literally translates to Egyptian. They originated in the city of Alexandria during the Apostolic period. The Coptic Church was established by the Apostle Mark during the middle of the 1st century (c. 42 AD). The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is based in Egypt,. Copts have suffered severe persecution and death for generations due to their beliefs. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, They’ve have suffered increased religion-based discrimination and violence. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – When the 50-year-old church elder and leader of Kano state’s Samaila village heard gunshots shortly before midnight, he rushed out of his house to try to find security agents.
It was a natural reaction for Mai’angwa Samaila, given recent Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria. What the elder for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) did not know was that the armed Islamic extremists, having killed two Christians in front of their Catholic church building, were coming for him next.
Not finding him at home that night (Aug. 15), they instead kidnapped his wife, Safiya Samaila, 45. They then kidnapped two other women, 20-year-old Yaha Gabriel and Hauwa Bebi, 18, both members of the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Samaila, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Such kidnappings, along with threats of massacres by Islamic extremists, are continuing with the approval of some state officials in a concerted effort to eliminate Christianity, church leaders said.
Mai’angwa Samaila told Morning Star News how the killing of Yohanna Audu, 45, and Audu’s son, 18-year-old Micah Yohanna Audu, and the kidnappings were carried out. The gunmen first went to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Yohanna Audu, a church member whose house is beside the Catholic building, went outside.
“He went to find out who were the men on the premises of the church at that time of the night when they shot him, and he died instantly,” Samaila said. “His son, who heard the sound of the gunshot, ran out to find out what had happened since his dad had just gone to the church; he too was shot and killed.”
The armed Muslim extremists then went through the village to kidnap the three women, starting with his wife.
“As the shooting and capturing of the women was going on, some residents in our village rushed to the Catholic church and rang the church’s bell, alerting others on the attack on the village,” he said. “This forced the armed Muslim men to beat a retreat. This saved so many lives that would have perished during the attack.”
As the gunmen retreated, they shot at those who had run to the church building, Samaila said.
“The three women kidnapped were taken away,” he said. “I frantically called on heads of security agencies in our area, the police and army, but I was told that they were unable to come to our aid because their vehicles had no fuel or were in bad working condition.”
The gunmen contacted him and others the following day, demanding 10 million naira (US$27,510) for the release of the women, he said.
“We pleaded with them to release the women, but they refused,” he said. “They threatened to kill the women unless we paid the ransom. We had no other option than to tax ourselves and pay the money.”
The gunmen accepted 3 million naira (US$8,253) and released the women a week later, on Aug. 22, Samaila said. He and others recovered them in the Falgore Forest.
“We believe that Christian communities here are being persecuted because of our faith,” he said. “The government is aware about such invasions of Christian communities but has not done anything to put an end to the menace. The sad thing is that it is only Christians that are being killed or kidnapped in our area, as there was never any Muslim community attacked or a Muslim kidnapped.”
Morning Star News found that kidnappings of Christians in the Tudun Wada area have forced many Christians to flee, while many others continue to receive text messages and letters threatening massacres in their villages if no payments are made to kidnappers.
Haruna Samaila, a Christian who has received persistent phone threats from Islamic extremists, played recorded phone conversations he had with them.
“They threatened that unless I pay them 3 million naira [US$8,253], I will be killed,” he told Morning Star News. “I reported the threats to our church leaders, and they asked me to report the matter to police. When I did so, I was instead arrested by the police and detained. It took the intervention of our church leaders to get me released.”
Church leaders threatened to sue police for illegally detaining him, Samaila said.
“I will never allow them to kidnap me alive, they just have to kill me,” Samaila he said. “The government is insensitive to our plight. This is a conspiracy against us Christians in Kano. Those in authority and government know those armed Muslims carrying out these attacks against us, and that is the reason they are not concerned about our plight. It is a battle against Christianity and Christians in Kano state.”
A Christian whose adult son was killed by Islamic extremists in 2016 said he received a threatening letter from the gunmen on Nov. 21.
ECWA member Aminu Sallau, 60, told Morning Star News that a gang of nine Muslim extremists rode into Katsinawa village in the Tudun Wada LGA on motorbikes on Feb. 6, 2016 and shot his son, Usman Aminu, to death.
“Even yesterday [Nov. 21], the gunmen again sent a letter to me saying they were not yet done with me,” he said. “They stated in the letter that I should keep aside 3 million naira [US$8,253] for them, as they’ll be coming for the money at any time, and that failure on my part to give them the money would mean death for me.”
Sallau said he had no money to give them.
“I am prepared to die if that is the only price I have to pay for being a Christian,” he said.
Sallau said he narrowly escaped death in the attack that killed his son.
“I was listening to news on the radio when nine armed Muslim men stormed my house,” he said. “They came on three motorbikes and started shooting into the air. Three of them pointed their guns at my head and demanded I give them money.”
He had 80,000 naira (US$220) in the house and gave it to them.
“The gunmen were not happy that I had only a little money on me, so they tied my hands and legs and were about to take me away when one of them, who was standing guard in front of my house, rushed in to tell his colleagues that he had shot and killed my son, Usman,” he said. “On hearing this, I began to cry and shout, and in the midst of the confusion, the gunmen abandoned me and fled.”
Usman Aminu’s widow, 25-year-old ECWA member Hauwa Usman Aminu, said that her husband had returned from a business trip and had decided to check on his mother in their family home.
“He decided to visit his mom in their family home about 200 meters from our house,” she said. “It was there that the gunmen killed him. I heard sounds of gunshots shortly after my husband had gone out and knew that something was wrong.”
The Rev. Ayuba Hassan of the ECWA Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, and chairman of the Tudun Wada Local Area Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that armed Muslims are carrying out attacks and kidnappings on Christians in order to force them to embrace Islam.
“Christians here are being persecuted for refusing to embrace Islam,” he said. “We are constantly under attack. We are not allowed to freely worship as Christians. These kidnappings are aimed at forcing us to recant or make us run away from here so that they can take over our lands and expand Islam’s frontiers.”
The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, vice chairman of the CAN Kano State Chapter, told Morning Star News that Muslim officials in the state government are behind attacks on Christians in the state.
“These attacks are being instigated and supported by the agents of the Muslim-controlled Kano state government to force indigenous Hausa Christians, who we are, to embrace Islam,” he said. “Our refusal to do their biddings is what has made them adopt this strategy of kidnappings and attacks in order to force our people to tow their line. This is a jihad against the church of Jesus Christ.”
Kano state officials declined to speak with Morning Star News about attacks on Christians in the Tudun Wada LGA. The state police headquarters in Kano, a spokesman confirmed the attacks but declined to speak further, saying only that the cases are being investigated.
Hassan said Christian communities and villages attacked include Samaila (Tuku), Katsinawa, Beguwa, Jarkaya, Gidan Kuzuntu and Jitta Dutse.
“In Beguwa village, on 14 July, 2016, three Christians were kidnapped,” he said. “Those kidnapped are Shamaki Ali, Bature Hassan, and Magaji Salisu. A Christian woman was also raped there. The four victims are members of the ECWA Church in Beguwa village.”
On the same day in Jarkaya village, another Christian community, three members of the Catholic church were kidnapped, identified only as Abdu, Jamilu and his son, he said.
In Gidan Kuzuntu village, also a predominantly Christian community, Baba Yaji was kidnapped at about 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 2016, and the Rev. Julius Gospel, a Roman Catholic priest, was kidnapped on June 30, 2016, in predominantly Christian Jitta Dutse, the ECWA pastor said.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
(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.
(Morning Star News) – In a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya on Sunday (Jan. 31), Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them, area sources said.
In the Kaisari area of Maporomoko village, near Pandanguo about 25 miles inland from the Indian Ocean town of Lamu, Al Shabaab rebels attacked from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., a wounded survivor at Mpeketoni Sub-County Hospital told Morning Star News.
The victim, a Christian from the Maporomoko-Bondeni area who was shot in his right hand, said there were five or six heavily-armed assailants who spoke Somali and were dressed in military uniform. They shot two Christians to death, hacked and beheaded another and killed at least one other by setting his house on fire, he said.
“I could not understand them, so they shot me in my hand, but I managed to escape while a neighbor who was with me was beheaded by the other attackers,” the Christian (name withheld) said from his hospital bed. “As I fled for my life bleeding, I could see two houses burning. Those who were attacked are Christians. I am very sure that the attackers were looking for Christians.”
The beheaded man was identified only as Mwaura, a Christian.
“This is the third time the area has been attacked, and we have lost several Christians,” the survivor said.
The rebels, who are fighting government and regional forces in Somalia, regard the northern coastal area of Kenya as Islamic territory. Al Shabaab, linked with Al Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack in a call to news organization Al Jazeera.
“Our fighters attacked non-believers in the occupied Muslim land of Lamu,” a spokesman said. “Our Mujahideen [Jihadists] killed several non-believers in the attack. We will give more details later.”
Unknown people resembling Al Shabaab militants had previously been seen in Pandanguo, a predominantly Muslim area, an area Christian leader said. Pandanguo is about 60 miles from the Somalia border.
“The Muslims want to wholly own the coastal region, and they want that the Christians should leave the area for them, but our presence in Lamu will bring many to the Christian faith,” the pastor said. “God has called us to be the salt and the light and to lead many to the marvelous light of Christ.”
Maporomoko village has a population of about 2,000 people from Christian tribes – Kikuyus, Meru and Kamba – and from non-Christian or Muslim Orma, Boni and Wasanye tribes, as well as Somalis. The Al Shabaab militants attacked only the Christian areas, the Christian leader said.
The rebels burned homes, left several people wounded and kidnapped some Christians, according to various sources.
“Security forces were following the footpaths of those kidnapped, who disappeared into the Pandanguo area, which is the home of the Boni and Somalis,” the pastor said. “The Christians are now finding out about some of their missing neighbors. The security personnel are not disclosing information, as tension remains high in areas where Christians have settled themselves: Mpeketoni, Hindi and some parts of Maporomoko area, which has been a target of Al Shabaab militia.”
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet told media the attack occurred near Pandanguo, which witnessed killings during June 2014 Al Shabaab attacks. Boinnet reportedly said security personnel were in the area tracking down the militants.
“They were dressed in military attire and heavily armed,” a senior police officer reportedly said. “They spoke in the Somali language and shot at locals and beheaded others before escaping on foot.”
On June 15, 2014, Al Shabaab rebels attacked Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, selecting out Christian males as they killed more than 57 people, area sources said. The estimated 50 Al Shabaab militants attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in a five-hour assault with guns and grenades. Sources told Morning Star News the attackers were chanting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater]” and killing whoever could not recite verses from the Koran.
After Sunday morning’s assault, Mpeketoni residents on Monday morning (Feb. 1) protested terror attacks by Al Shabaab militia in the region. Police had to stop the demonstration of angry Mpeketoni residents to keep them from retaliation attacks on Somalis living in the area. At the same time, hundreds of people in Kaisari, greater Maporomoko and nearby Jima and Nyatha villages have been seen fleeing their homes.
“We feel very insecure, and our lives are in danger,” a mother of four in Hindi told Morning Star News. “Next time, the attackers will come and destroy us completely.”
Al Shabaab rebels have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011, in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.