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Nigeria (Morning Star News) – At first the commercial motorcycle drivers I needed clamored for my business, but when they found out I was going to Kwanti village, in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, they all dispersed without haggling over prices.
Kwanti and its surrounding villages of large estates inhabited mostly by farmers have been taken over by armed bandits believed to be Muslim Fulani herdsmen and terrorists. They are working in concert to terrorize local communities through kidnappings and thus force people from their lands.
“Even if you give me 1 million naira [US$2,750], I will not take the risk to take you to Kwanti,” one of the drivers told me.
Unable to convince one of them to be my guide to the area, I watched as they discussed in hushed tones among themselves in the Gbagyi language. I approached them again with a Gbagyi greeting “Agife,” and they engaged me in talk of how mine was a trip of no return. Finally one elderly fellow consented to take me there – at five times the usual charge.
“If going to Kwanti will bring into the open our plight as a people, I am prepared to die for it so that my people can be rescued from kidnappers who have made our lives miserable,” he said.
On the one-hour drive to Kwanti, we did not meet a single soul on the roads. At every village we passed, the driver would stop and inquire how safe it was to proceed. The answer was always the same: “Watch out, but is the risk worth it?”
The “road” was a bush path that only vehicles fitted with special gears can negotiate. My guide was sweating profusely. Surrounded by forest, his eyes were roving from side to side checking for lurking kidnappers. To him we were traveling in the shadow of the valley of death, and I recited Psalm 23 to him, telling him that we were protected by the power above that is greater than that of the kidnappers.
When we arrived Kwanti, we found a ghost village. There were four abandoned church buildings – Catholic, EKAS, Baptist, and Assemblies of God – and numerous houses deserted out of residents’ fear of kidnappers. We met some few persons in the village who were moving their belongings out.
Once inhabited by prosperous, large-scale commercial farmers, the village had been attacked by marauding kidnappers four times within one year, I learned. Many lives were lost, many people were kidnapped and millions of naira had been paid as ransom for mostly women victims.
The few people left in the village told me all the church leaders had left because all the residents had fled. I got a phone number of one of the pastors and called him. He was shocked that I was in Kwanti. He urged me to leave the village immediately.
“The kidnappers are heartless,” he said. “They can kidnap you if they spot you. They strike any time, and ransom must paid before a victim can be released. Sometimes you may not be lucky to come out alive if they kidnap you. So please leave Kwanti now, and let me know if you’re out of the place safely.”
Other villages attacked within that triangular “axis of evil” include Ungwar Rimi, Bauta, Kunuko, Ronu, and Taso 2.
On our way out, as a safety measure we took a different route out of the village, but like the road in, it had broken culverts that forced us to drive into stream water to find our way. My guide’s relief was palpable when we arrived back at Kaduna city, but even as we thanked God for journey mercies and protection, my heart was still with those in Kwanti struggling to move their belongings out.
Surprisingly, the next morning some of the villagers phoned me to inquire whether I had safely reached Kaduna. They had been praying for my safe ride back.
The federal and Kaduna state governments urgently need to investigate the extent of lawlessness in this triangular axis between Kajuru, Jere, and Sabon Wuse/Ganya. Officials need to take measures to end the kidnappings that have become dreaded monsters devouring innocent lives of our citizens.
Kidnappings are not just a menace in southern Kaduna state but are becoming a phenomenon pushing the country to the brink. Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church recently lamented that the whereabouts of three nuns kidnapped in Benin City, Edo state in southwest Nigeria, are still unknown after two months. They were abducted along with three student-nuns at a convent by armed gunmen on Nov. 13.
The Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, told reporters on Jan. 1 of his sadness over the incessant invasion of churches, kidnappings of priests and pastors and attacks on Christian communities across the country.
“It is disheartening that the security agencies have not been able to get the sisters out, and one wonders why this is the case,” he said. “We still do hope that the security agencies would do much more than is being done now to ensure that the sisters are released.”
Roseline Isiocha, Aloysius Ajayi and Frances Udi, along with the three nuns in training, were kidnapped at about 2 a.m. from a convent of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (EHJ) Sisters, in Iguoriakhi village, near Benin City.
Unless drastic measures are adopted to curtail kidnapping, the practice threatens to spread into a dangerous conflagration.
(Agenzia Fides) – “Ambulances and police continue to occupy the city. [More than] 60 people were killed and more than 200 wounded. They were all police officers and young people who were being trained in the military school [police academy]. We are shocked by another act of terrorism aimed at innocent people. The main target is the military”: is what is reported to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Renard Lawrence, missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Quetta, where in the early hours of this morning there was a major terrorist attack against the Balochistan Police College, located just outside the city. Three suicide bombers broke into the building during the night, two of them blew themselves up, killing students and young people, while the third was stopped.
The school had already been the object of attacks in the past. According to investigators, the terrorists were believed to be from the “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group” which has bases in Afghanistan. In August 88 people were killed in two attacks in a hospital and in front of the court in Quetta.
Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group, IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan said.
Separately, the militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s Amaq news agency.
“These attacks are carried out in places where there is less defense and security so as to hit as many innocent victims. It is terrible”, says Fr. Renard. “We strongly condemn the attacks and terrorist violence. Many families suffer for this slaughter of innocents. We entrust them to the Lord, who can console them”, adds Fr. Inayat Gill, OMI, pro Vicar general of Quetta. “I cannot deny that there is a certain fear, but we have learned to live with it. With the grace of God, we are carrying out our mission quite peacefully in this area of the country. The Catholic community (about 35 thousand souls) have settled in the remote areas of this province, but we have easy access to these people and we accompany them in their spiritual and material needs without any obstacle”.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta, in Baluchistan province, runs seven schools attended mostly by Muslims students and carries out social work through Caritas. “These works of the Church are very much appreciated by the population”, he concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 25/10/2016)
Pray for peace in Pakistan. Pray for the families grieving their loved ones. Pray also for our Pakistani brothers and sisters, living under the constant threat of terrorism, to remain strong in faith and to shine the light and love of Jesus Christ.
Warning: graphic images
ADEN, YEMEN (ANS – March 18, 2016) — A lone surviving nun is telling the world her personal account of a recent Yemen massacre she witnessed in a chilling handwritten letter.
According to CBN News, a peaceful morning on March 4, 2016, at a Catholic nursing home in Aden, Yemen, suddenly turned into 90 minutes of horror as men, believed to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists, raided the facility with the intent of murdering every nun and volunteer there.
According to reports, the nuns were first handcuffed and then shot at point blank range.
Sister Sally is the only eye witness to the event. She recounted her story in a conversation with another nun, Sister Rio, who then wrote down her account in a memorandum.
According to India-born Sister Sally, the assailants stormed the facility on the morning of March 4 after the nuns and volunteer aids had their usual breakfast and prayer time.
Armed terrorists dressed in blue stormed the compound at 8:30 a.m.
“Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the sisters ISIS was there to kill them. They were killed one by one,” Sister Sally recalled.
Another 12 others at an elderly facility were also brutally slaughtered.
CBN News then went on to say that the terrorists proceeded to gun down every nun and volunteer they could find until Sister Sally was the only one left. She then tried running to warn the nearby convent before she was forced to hide behind the door of “the refrigerator room.”
“The [Islamic State] ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her and even entered the refrigerator room at least three times without finding her,” Sister Sally witnessed.
Sister Rio comments in the memorandum that Sister Sally’s survival is nothing short of “miraculous.”
“The terrorists murdered every other nun and any volunteer aids they could find. After the rampage the Islamic extremists destroyed all religious articles and Christian symbols at the facility,” CBN went on to say.
“The martyred nuns were Sister Judith from Kenya, Sister Anselm from India, and Sister Marguerite and Sister Reginette from Rwanda. They were all associated with Members of the Missionaries of Charity, an order founded by Mother Teresa.
“Indian priest Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was also kidnapped by the terrorists and is yet to be found.”
The murdered sisters had left their homes in India and Africa to serve the poor, elderly, and disabled in the war-torn country of Yemen. They worked together with volunteers at the convent’s home care center, where they served around sixty to eighty patients of all religions.
“They were serving all poor people irrespective of their religion. Their duty was to help the poor,” a representative from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia told the Catholic News Agency (CAN).
Sister Sally and her community are still grieving the victims’ deaths but say they have “fully surrendered” to the will of God.
In the memorandum, Sister Sally urges Christians “to pray that their blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop ISIS.”
According to PressTV (http://www.presstv.ir), no individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the carnage, but sources close to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed it on the Islamic State [Dae’sh] (IS) terrorists.
Yemen has been under Saudi airstrikes on a daily basis since the regime in Riyadh launched its military aggression against the impoverished country in late March 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Exploiting the chaos in Yemen, Islamic State (Dae’sh), which is mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, has been able to infiltrate the country.
The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also taken advantage of the volatile conditions and the breakdown of security in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi war to tighten its grip on parts of southeastern Yemen.
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
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Suspected al Qaeda terrorists shot dead a five-year-old boy who fell to his knees and prayed for his life during a terror attack on a tourist resort in Ivory Coast, eyewitnesses have said.
At least four men armed with AK47s and hand grenades killed 16 people, including four Europeans, in the historic town of Grand Bassam before they were gunned down in a shootout with government troops.
One survivor who saw the attack unfold said: ‘They killed a child despite him kneeling down and begging. They shot a woman in the chest. They’ve killed innocent people.’
Another witness, Marcel Guy, said a man with a long beard spoke to two children in Arabic and spared the life of the one who was able to recite an Islamic prayer.
‘The Christian boy was shot and killed right in front of my eyes,’ Guy said. Read more via Daily Mail
Benneta Betbadal, 46: She was born in Iran in 1969 and came to the United States at age 18 to escape the persecution of Christians after the Iranian Revolution, according to a family statement on a fundraising account set up in her name.
Most of the 14 people killed at a holiday banquet in San Bernardino County, California, worked in the same county public health department as the man who showed up with his wife and sprayed the hall with gunfire.
An official list of the dead was released Thursday, and families, friends and co-workers came forward to share some of their stories: READ MORE