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Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot and wounded a Christian leader and his family in one part of Plateau state on Tuesday (May 5), two days after herdsmen killed four Christians in another part of the state, sources said.
Herdsmen shot the Rev. Bayo Famonure, head of Christian high school Messiah College, at his home on the school premises in Gana Ropp village, Barkin Ladi County on Tuesday night, Pastor Famonure said by text message from his bed at General Hospital in the town of Barkin Ladi.
“Yes, I was shot in the head, but the bullet didn’t enter. It’s a miracle,” Pastor Famonure told Morning Star News, saying he was also grateful that bullets in his lower extremities missed bones.
The herdsmen shot his wife in the back and his two children in the feet, but all were in stable condition, he said. His wife, Na’omi, was initially in critical condition and was transferred to Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), where she underwent surgery on her back on Wednesday (May 6), sources said.
“I just praise God,” Pastor Famonure said, adding that even though his wife and two children were shot, “we’re all chatting.”
Eight armed herdsmen invaded the school, closed due to the novel coronavirus, while the pastor and his family were sleeping, said the Rev. Danjuma Byang, secretary of the Plateau chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
“Sister Na’omi is stable, X-ray and scan show no internal injury and no embedded bullets,” Pastor Byang told Morning Star News by text message. “We thank the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness. Let’s also pray for our govt and security agencies for sincerity on their part. In obedience to govt directives people stay in their homes, and some marauding herdsmen follow them home and mow them down; and nothing happens afterwards.”
The Christian school was also attacked on Feb. 24, 2014, forcing the temporary closure of several Christian ministries in the area. The training base of Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) and the headquarters of Agape Missions are based in Gana Ropp.
Near Miango County’s Kwall village, herdsmen ambushed and killed four Christians on Sunday (May 3), sources said.
They were ambushed as they shared a motorcycle from Kwall village to Miango town at about 9:30 p.m., said area resident Moses Gata. He identified them as Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) members Friday Musa, 26; Chohu Nyangu, 25; Anta Yakubu, 26; and Baptist Church member Emmanuel Kure, 24.
“They met their untimely death in Adu village when they were ambushed and shot by Fulani gunmen,” Gata told Morning Star News. “Three of them, Emmanuel Kure, Chohu Nyangu and Friday Musa, were all killed on the spot with a spray of bullets, while Anta Yakubu sustained some serious bullet injuries and later died at Enos Hospital Miango.”
All four were buried by military and police personnel at a cemetery in Kwall village along the Miango-Vom road, he said.
“Soldiers and police were all at the scene of the attack, and a police vehicle was used to convey the corpses to the burial ground at Miango-Vom road,” Gata said.
On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
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.
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.
A security source said a 21-year-old Muslim man, named only as Mohamed, died of a fractured skull in hospital after fighting between local Muslims and Copts who had been attending a funeral for four Christians shot dead in a town near Cairo. The health ministry said at least 90 people, including 11 policemen, were wounded around the cathedral, seat of the Coptic pope, in one of the worst sectarian flare-ups since the fall of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Separately, the state news agency MENA said one person was killed and 14 wounded in fresh clashes on Sunday night in the town of El Khusus, north of Cairo, where the latest wave of sectarian strife began on Friday. Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said the government was taking all measures to protect the safety of Egyptians of all faiths, promising to bring to justice the perpetrators of sectarian attacks and to crack down on unlicensed weapons. He also spoke to the heads of the Coptic church and of the Islamic al-Azhar institution to discuss ways to resolve the crisis and prevent any repetition, a cabinet statement said.
The violence erupted as Egypt is negotiating with a visiting International Monetary Fund delegation for a loan of at least $4.8 billion to ease a deepening economic crisis aggravated by political and sectarian turmoil that has hit investment and tourism in the Middle East’s most populous nation.
Muslim and Christian religious leaders appeared together on late-night television to call for calm and national unity after the clashes around St. Mark’s Cathedral, headquarters of the Coptic church, which raged for several hours on Sunday.
Muslims pelted Christians sheltering in the church compound with petrol bombs and rocks after angry young Copts leaving the funeral service chanted slogans against President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement. Witnesses accused the police of standing by as the Copts were attacked and of firing teargas at mourners in the compound as they emerged from the cathedral under a hail of rocks.
A statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s website blamed Christians for starting the trouble by vandalizing several cars.
FAILURE TO PROTECT?
Mursi telephoned Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II on Sunday evening to condemn the violence, telling him that “any attack on the cathedral is like an attack on me personally”. In a condolence message to the families of the victims, Tawadros said on Monday: “Heavenly justice will be spoken at the appropriate time.” Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people and have complained that the authorities have failed to protect them since Mubarak’s overthrow, giving radical Islamists a free hand.
In a sign of international concern, U.S. Ambassador Ann Patterson welcomed Mursi’s promise of a full and transparent investigation into the violence, but said: “It is the responsibility of the state to protect all of its citizens.”
Samir Morcos, who was the only Christian presidential aide until he resigned in November, told Reuters :
“I cannot accept an attack on the cathedral, the symbol of the Coptic church. This has never happened before.”
MENA said police had arrested 30 people for investigation for their roles in the troubles in El Khusus. Five of the detained were accused of possession of weapons. The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, said in a statement on the movement’s website that the attack on Christians in El Khusus was alien to all Egyptians. He blamed the violence not on Muslim radicals but on unnamed forces seeking to divide Egypt. “Evidently, there are desperate attempts to subvert our national unity. They will not succeed, God willing,” Source
Coptic Christians have complained that the Christian minority suffers from discrimination, and reoccurring violence over issues of building churches or when Christian men and Muslim women become involved in love relationships leading to marriage.
After the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, attacks have increased against Christians. There have been more attacks on houses of worships and the need of brief evacuations of an entire communities of Christians from their homes.
As Islamists gain more power in Egypt’s government, Christians are increasingly worried about their freedom of worship and their belief in Christ. Please continue to keep these brothers and sisters in your prayers!
Nigeria: Accused Rogue Soldier Fatally Shoots Infant and 5 year old, while injuring Mother and 7 year old Sibling
TOROK, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The Nigerian mother of three, wounded from the same gunshot that killed her 9-month-old baby, asked her bleeding 7-year-old daughter to pray for their survival.
The Christian mother’s second daughter, 5-year-old Nancy, also lay dead at the extended family compound in central Nigeria. The alledged shooter was identified as a soldier from the Special Task Force (STF). The crisis unit was deployed by the government to protect against Islamic extremist attacks in the area.
Lyop Dangyel, 30, lay in a pool of blood as her 7-year-old Comfort, shot in both legs, tightly held her hand. “Dear Jesus, please save me and mom,” Comfort began, as Dangyel silently joined her in prayer that their lives would not ebb away. Minutes later, her husband returned to find his wife, first-born daughter and 50-year-old mother wounded, along with the corpses of his infant and 5-year-old daughters. It was about 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, March 17, in the village of Torok, 65 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Jos in central Nigeria’s Plateau state.
“The soldier shot me on the back, a gunshot that killed my 9-month-old baby, Miracle, whom I had on my back,” Lyop Dangyel told Morning Star News from her hospital bed. “He also shot me on my right shoulder and then on my right thigh. We were all sitting and eating together. Injured by the soldier too, is my mother in-law, Kachollom Dangyel.”
Dangyel had just finished cooking the evening meal and had taken it to be shared by several relatives, she said at Vom Christian Hospital. Soon after they sat down to eat, they heard movements behind the kitchen. Her sister in law asked, “Who is there?” There was no answer.
“Just as she made to go there to find out what was making the movement, the soldier whom we all know is among the men of the Special Task Force stationed in the village to protect us stepped out of his hiding place. And then suddenly, he began shooting at us,” Dangyel said.
She identified the soldier as Abubakar Shuaibu. Police confirmed that they had received a report of an attack by STF personnel. A high school student said he was also shot by a policeman on the STF security team in the March 17 attack at the family compound. A media relations officer for the STF was not available at press time to confirm that a military member of the force was under investigation for the murders; the officer said to check back in a few days.
Dangyel’s husband, 35-year-old Dangyel Chuwang, told Morning Star News that he heard the gunfire from afar. “I was in my brother’s house about 100 meters away from our family house when I heard sounds of gunshots,” he said. “I quickly rushed out to find out what was happening.” En route he came upon a soldier retreating from the area, he said. “I asked him what was happening, and he told me he didn’t know what was happening,” Chuwang said. “I asked him to come along with me to my family house, but he refused. I left him and rushed there, only to meet my wife at the point of death. She told me that it was the soldier who shot them as they were having their meal.” He ran into the village, where a friend with a car helped to rush his wounded family members to the hospital, Chuwang said.
The attack comes after several weeks of complaints that Muslim STF soldiers are carrying out extrajudicial activities in Plateau state. Riyom Local Government Chairman Sam Audu has complained that STF forces are responsible for some of the 100 deaths and 60 wounded in the area the past six months. He and others have called for the withdrawal of STF soldiers tasked with keeping Muslim, ethnic Fulani gunmen from hit-and-run murders of predominantly Christian, ethnic Berom people.
The high school student wounded in the March 17 attack was 20-year-old Elisha Dalyop. The student at the Government Secondary School in Rim (GSS-Rim) told Morning Star News that when the soldier began shooting at them in the house, he escaped through a backdoor. A policeman serving with the STF pursued him and shot his left leg.
“I tried hiding among cactus plants a few meters from the house, but the policeman pursued me to the place and tried killing me,” he said. “I had to break through the cactus plants to escape being shot by the policeman. I ran with my injured leg in the dark through the bush for about three kilometers to a nearby village, Wereng, to get help from a man I know there.”
His friend there, Daniel Danladi, reported the attack to soldiers on patrol, and they got colleagues at Tahoss village to come to take him to the hospital, Dalyop said from his bed at Vom Christian Hospital.
Wereng Attack – Three days earlier (March 14), Islamic extremist gunmen shot another Christian high school student at GSS-Rim, Davou Gwong, in his thighs at about 2 a.m. in nearby Wereng village. Gwong, also treated at Vom Christian Hospital, told Morning Star News that he and others from his village were keeping watch for their community as Muslim gunmen struck twice there last year.
“At about 2 a.m., we heard movements by some unknown persons towards us. So, we asked to know who was approaching us,” he said. “The response we got from the dark was, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is greater],’ and then gunshots fired at us. I was hit by a bullet on my thighs, but my colleagues escaped unhurt. The attackers retreated after they sensed that we knew they were in our village.”
Previous attacks on Wereng village took place in December and July. An elderly man with eight children, Danburang Tengwom, was killed in the December attack, Gwong said. Wereng village is about 12 kilometers (eight miles) from Riyom town, southwest of Jos.
Torok and Wereng are both predominantly Christian, with all believers belonging to the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). The Rev. Dr. Obed Dashan, general secretary of COCIN, told Morning Star News the denomination was very worried that attacks on their members have not abated in spite of the presence of security agencies in Christian villages.
“How can security agents sent to these villages turn their guns on the very people they are expected to protect?” he said. “We have heard that Muslim terrorists of the Boko Haram sect have infiltrated all security agencies. And we now hear of Muslim soldiers attacking Christian communities and killing members of our churches – this to us is not a surprise. Nigeria has no more security.” he said.
“There is therefore no doubt that Boko Haram members are in the Army and the police, and they are the ones attacking our church members in the villages,” he said. “What is happening is that there is a deliberate plan by Muslim leaders to destroy the church in northern Nigeria.”
Besides hit-and-run attacks by Fulani Muslims, Christians in Nigeria have also been targeted by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia (Islamic law) nationwide. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside primarily in the north. Nigerians practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.
Dashan called on the Nigerian government to investigate the involvement of Muslim soldiers and policemen in attacking Christian communities.
“If our church members in the attacked communities have been able to identify some of these gunmen as soldiers and policemen posted to protect them, then they should be prosecuted,” he said. “All we demand is justice for our church members.” Source
VOP asks that you please remember Christians in Nigeria and to keep them close in your prayers. These dear Christians feel as if they are in the ‘Last Days’. Incessant prayer is greatly needed for them now!