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Russia Dagestan shooting: Five women killed in attack on churchgoers

 

Doctors examine wounded patients in a hospital in Kizlyar

Five women have been killed in a shooting at a church in Russia’s volatile republic of Dagestan.

Five others, including a police officer and a national guardsman, were injured, Russian officials said. Two are said to be in a critical condition.

A man fired at people leaving an evening service in the city of Kizlyar.

The attacker was shot and killed at the scene. He was later identified as 22-year-old Khalil Khalilov, a resident of Dagestan.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack but did not immediately provide any evidence.

The gunman used a hunting rifle, opening fire on worshippers leaving a service during celebrations for Maslenitsa – a traditional pre-Lent festival, Russian media report.

Four women were killed at the scene, and another woman died later in a hospital.

One of them was an award-winning doctor, Lyudmila Shcherbakova, who had more than 40 years’ experience working in Dagestan’s hospitals, Tass news agency reports.

Russian news outlet RBK quoted an Orthodox Christian priest as saying the attack took place immediately following the afternoon service.

“We had finished the mass and were beginning to leave the church. A bearded man ran towards the church shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) and killed four people,” the priest said.

“He was carrying a rifle and a knife,” he added.

IS later said – through its information wing Amaq – that one of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.

However, it provided no evidence to back up its claims.

The Dagestan Muftiate – the administrative body for Sunni Muslims in the region – expressed sorrow over the attack and condemned the gunman as a “Wahhabi… one of those who espouse pseudo-Islam, which has no connection to true Islam”.

Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam followed by Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and religious establishment.

IS made the claim in the name of its so-called “Caucasus Province”, the last official branch set up by the group in 2015.

The branch has claimed a number of deadly attacks against security personnel in Dagestan.

Dagestan, located in Russia’s North Caucasus, is an ethnically diverse and largely Muslim federal republic.

The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church called the shooting a “monstrous crime” aimed at sowing discord between Christians and Muslims in Dagestan.

Source: BBC



Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria

By JOEY MILLAR

ARMED men stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion in Nigeria.

Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.

Houses belonging to believers have also been razed with authorities doing little to help, an anti-persecution watchdog claimed.

Open Doors spoke to one Christian who described the broad daylight attack carried out by a group of Fulani – one of Africa’s largest ethnicities.

A spokeswoman said: “One attack took place in broad daylight, as people were about to go to church.

“The assailants chased and killed the villagers and burned down nine churches and many more houses.”

Churches are regularly attacked in Nigeria in waves of Christian persecution

Christian persecution is a major problem in Nigeria which has been exacerbated by the spread of radical Islamic teaching and practice.

The shocked witness said Christians needed more protection from the country’s leader or lives would continue to be lost.

They said: “Despite several calls to the governor and his deputy, and other security apparatus, the government remained silent as the atrocities continued.

“The Fulani were able to carry out their deadly attack. They stayed for hours in the vicinity, moving at will, unchallenged.”

Christians are subject to waves of oppression and attacks in Nigeria

 

In the central state of Nasarawa, 25 villages have been destroyed since January 15.

Again, the predominately Christian victims said they had been abandoned by leaders.

A spokesman for the Concerned Indigenous Tiv People group said: “Since the outbreak of the crisis on January 15 this year, due to the Fulani /herdsmen attack on our villages, leading to the displacement of Tiv in their ancestral homes, the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura, has done very little to bring the situation under control.”

Fifteen villages were attacked in the state of Nasarawa. GOOGLE MAPS

Other attacks have taken place in Benue State and across the Middle Belt region of the country. The Army has now been deployed to certain areas in order to stop the violence.

A spokeswoman for Open Doors said: “Believers experience discrimination and exclusion, and violence from militant Islamic groups, resulting in the loss of property, land, livelihood, physical injury or death; this is spreading southwards.

“Corruption has enfeebled the state and made it ill-equipped to protect Christians. Rivalry between ethnic groups and raids by Fulani herdsmen compound the persecution. Converts face rejection from their Muslim families and pressure to recant.”

Source: Sunday Express 18/02/2018



Ways Christians Should Pray Following a Mass Shooting

We are remembering all those who have lost family members and friends, as well as those who survived the massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida. As part of the worldwide Christian Church, we pray for those in the local community, being torn apart by grief after this atrocity. Although we mean well and want to bring comfort through our prayers, sometimes it’s difficult to know how exactly to pray in a manner that will be effective. We are grateful to Dr Jeremy Roberts and The Christian Post for the article below which suggests ‘how’ to pray at a time like this:

By Dr. Jeremy Roberts

The mass school shooting that took place in South Florida was a tragic act of violence that shows demonic activity is alive. This shooting was purely from Satan. It was anti-God. It was evil. We have a desperate need for God’s peace.

Now is the time to turn to God in prayer. I encourage you to pray through several Psalms as you process what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida.

How Should You Pray, in Response to the Shooting?

1. Pray for God’s peace and comfort to fall upon all affected. (Pray Psalm 86:17)

Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

2. Pray that this trend of school and church shootings would cease, via the power of God and wisdom of police and security experts. (Pray Psalm 11:5)

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

3. Pray that American politicians would unite in the midst of this tragedy and work together to lead a safer country instead of fighting and blaming. Pray that politicians would not seek to destroy their “political enemies” in the heat of this proverbial summer. (Pray Psalm 32:3-4)

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

4. Pray that Christians would respond to this in compassionate ways instead of using this event to merely push opinions of gun control. (Pray Psalm 116:5)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.

5. Pray for a sweeping revival to come to America. We must come back to God. (Pray Psalm 9:9)

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Jeremy Roberts is the lead pastor at Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, SC.

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the amended law designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. This year, the National Day of Prayer will be observed by millions of Americans on Thursday, May 3.

 

Source: The Christian Post



Sudan government demolishes church despite pending appeal

The demolished Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Haj Yousif, Feb 2018 (World Watch Monitor)

A church belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) denomination in the Khartoum suburb of Haj Yousif was demolished yesterday (11 February). The police arrived with three lorries shortly after the Sunday morning service and confiscated furniture, Bibles and musical instruments, before knocking down the 29-year-old building.

The demolition went ahead despite a pending legal appeal.

“We had hoped [officials] would not attack our church outside of the court ruling, but it is clear the government is acting outside of the courts,” a SPEC leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor.

Workers demolishing the SPEC church
Government officials claimed the congregation did not have the required permission to meet in the area, though SPEC leaders said they have the correct legal documents for the church, which was built in 1989.

The congregation was aware of objections to the presence of a church. Five years ago the Public Peace and Safety Committee, which consisted of local people, decided it wanted the church to be knocked down. In 2017 the building was placed on a list of 27 churches that the government was planning to demolish because they were said to be in violation of the designated purposes of the land they were built on.

The church’s problems with the government date back to 2012, when the Evangelical Community Council, a SPEC committee responsible for managing the denomination’s properties, appointed Rafat Samir as chair to replace Hamad Muhammad Salah. Salah was dismissed over fraud but won his appeal and was reinstated by the government, even though it had no legal authority to do so.

A number of SPEC members who objected to Salah’s reinstatement ended up in court. Earlier this month seven of the church’s leaders were fined for their “objection to the authorities” . Nineteen other members were freed due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, five leaders from the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC) are scheduled to appear in court on 6 March to face unknown charges in another ongoing case against a church in Khartoum. The five men were detained in October 2017 and ordered to hand over ownership of their church from the church-elected committee to a state-sanctioned rival committee. They refused and were released without further instruction. But a few days later they were charged with causing sound pollution because their church services were “too noisy”.

Two SCOC buildings, which were also on the list of 27 churches scheduled for demolition by the government, were torn down in May 2017.

In November 2017 the US Deputy Secretary of State called on Sudan to “immediately suspend” its demolition of churches. John J. Sullivan, speaking at the Al-Neelain Mosque in Omdurman, told a group of interfaith leaders that “the treatment of members of religious minorities is often the ultimate indicator of a government’s commitment” to religious freedom.

But last month, Abu Bakr Ibrahim, Sudan’s Minister of Guidance, countered allegations of an absence of religious freedom in the country. He said his ministry was “fighting the phenomena of extremism and radicalism by adopting the principle of moderation”. He added that the embassies of Norway and the Netherlands had requested translations of the materials used in a recent workshop by the Ministry for Religious Co-existence, which was said to have been attended by a number of Christians.

Source: World Watch Monitor



Churchgoers and Priest Injured by Sword Attack at St. Lidwina Church in Indonesia

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on February 11 a 22-year-old university student attacked a priest and churchgoers with a samurai sword at St. Lidwina Church in Yogyakarta, Java, injuring four people.

Suliyono, the young man believed to be a university student, first entered from the west door of the church, shouting in the outer yard. Suddenly, while still yelling, he attacked one of the churchgoers. According to a witness, “One of the fathers who was carrying his son was hit by the sword. He was on the outside yard.” The congregation under the canopy quickly dispersed, as Suliyono moved on to the main church building.

Suliyono then ran forward and attacked priest Karl Edmund Prier who was leading the mass and one other remaining congregant who was still inside the church. He also slashed the statues of Jesus and Mary near the pulpit of the church.

A police officer, Officer Munir, arrived on the scene and tried to negotiate with the perpetrator to surrender. However, Suliyono instead attacked Munir, leading him to fire a warning shot. Yet Suliyono did not relent and injured Munir’s hand. The assailant was then shot in the stomach and transported to the hospital.

In a video shared by Detik News, Suliyono can be seen swinging his sword at the altar and later apprehended by police.

This is the second time in Indonesia that a violent assault has been carried out against a priest while presiding over the Eucharist. In August 2016, a teenager attacked a priest with a knife and axe during mass after a bomb in his backpack failed to explode.

A Christian pastor in West Java familiar with Christian persecution in Indonesia believes that “this attack did not specifically target Catholics, rather it is a random attack against any Christian church due to hostility.” No radical Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but according to the pastor, “Suliyono must be brainwashed by radical thoughts, as he called his father before the attack and said he will marry ‘virgin’ in heaven, a reward for carrying out acts of terror and martyrdom believed by jihadists.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The attacker sought to create chaos and conflict at the church, but the church responded calmly to the attack, preventing further casualties. Thankfully, the police arrived in time to apprehend the perpetrator. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims at St. Lidwina Church, and we pray for the recovery of all those who were injured during this attack.”

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

Source: International Christian Concern (ICC)