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Burkina Faso mosque attack kills 15 worshippers

Military enforcements have been put in place in the area following the attack

Friends In The West note:

It is with sadness that we bring another report of an attack on a place of worship.  Whether it’s worshippers from a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or any other tradition or religion, this is an atrocity and an outrage that should be condemned by all people of goodwill. When evil acts like this happen, the grief and pain felt by those who have lost family members and loved ones is no different, no matter what background they’re from.  We send our sincere condolences and love to all those who have suffered loss or injury, and pray that they will find a supernatural strength and comfort at this very difficult time. 

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At least 15 people have been killed and two seriously injured in an attack on a mosque in northern Burkina Faso. 

Gunmen entered the Grand Mosque in the village of Salmossi on Friday evening as those inside were praying. 

The attack prompted many locals to flee the village which is close to the Malian border. 

Hundreds of people have been killed in the country over the past few years, mostly by jihadist groups. 

One resident from the nearby town of Gorom-Gorom told AFP news agency: “Since this morning, people have started to flee the area.”

He added that there was a “climate of panic despite military reinforcements” put in place following the attack. 

No group has admitted carrying out the attack. 

Jihadist attacks have increased in Burkina Faso since 2015, forcing thousands of schools to close down. 

The conflict spread across the border from neighbouring Mali where Islamist militants took over the north of the country in 2012 before French troops pushed them out. 

The UN Refugee agency says more than a quarter of a million people in Burkina Faso have been forced to flee their homes over the past three months. 

Last week, 20 people were killed in an attack on a gold-mining site in the north. 

On Saturday, about 1,000 people protested in the capital Ouagadougou to denounce violence in their country and the presence of foreign military forces in the region. 

Source: BBC News



Egypt: friends fear family may have killed ex-teacher of Islam after he became Christian

40 year old Amr Hussein Mohd El-Sayeh, who died by ‘electric shock’ at home, 4 Oct, 2019 (Credit: World Watch Monitor)

Friends of a 40 year-old Egyptian who converted from Islam to Christianity believe that his premature death on 4th October is linked to numerous threats he received from his family that they would kill him for his change of faith.

Before Amr Hussein Mohamed El-Sayeh died, apparently by electrocution at his home, he told several friends that his uncle had, in July, reported him twice to the Alexandria police security directorate for his ‘apostasy’. He also told his friends that when he tried to talk to his wife about his new-found faith, she told their family, prompting them to constantly taunt and insult him. One friend told World Watch Monitor “Amr told me recently that his family threatened to kill him”.

Suspicious circumstances surround El-Sayeh’s death. A source at the local hospital in Moharam Bek who personally saw his body says that, despite the presence of police close by it all the time, (s)he was able to see that there were blue bruises around the neck and on the face, which appeared to be incompatible with the hospital’s cause of death report: electrocution.

In addition, the source reports that the body was not given the ritual washing before burial – customary for every Middle Eastern funeral, Muslim or Christian. This, friends say, is due to the fact that, only weeks before his death, El-Sayeh had tattooed his wrist with a cross (as many Egyptian Christians do); so although his ID card still showed him as a Muslim, the body washers were told that he should be treated as an ‘apostate’.

Finally, the family did not hold a funeral for him; instead El-Sayeh was buried in a charity cemetery for the poor.

El-Sayeh had left his job teaching Islamic studies to primary school age children at Alexandria’s Al Azhar Institute in March 2019. He had graduated from the Faculty of Islamic Studies at the world-famous Al-Azhar university before becoming a teacher.

However, he told his friend that, amongst other things, he had watched Christian satellite TV. The friend told World Watch Monitor “Watching these programmes made him want to know more about the truth of Islam and to read more of the Bible and to compare it, and pray. And God touched his heart and guided him on his way. He had a desire to know more about Christ and Christianity. He read more Christian books”.

Amr Hussein Mohamed El-Sayeh in baptismal robe, April 2019 (Credit: WWM)

On 13 April, El-Sayeh was secretly baptized into the Christian faith. He decided to take the name ‘George’. The friend told WWM “He then began to talk to his wife about Christ and the work of Christ in his life to convince her to follow Jesus like him”.

But instead she told his wider family. “Then his family began to resist him and insult him, they wondered that Amr was an al-Azhar student and a graduate of the Faculty of Islamic Studies, and yet he converted to Christianity” the friend went on.

In September, even after his uncle had reported him to the authorities, ‘George’ “made a cross tattoo on his right wrist, which triggered his family against him”.

World Watch Monitor heard from apparently unconnected sources during the compilation of this report. At least five people were so concerned for their safety that they did not want to be named, but were only willing to provide information on condition of anonymity.

This shows the life-threatening situation in which Muslims who choose to leave Islam for another faith, or no faith at all, find themselves as ‘apostates’ who’ve chosen to abandon everything: too often, their families feel so ashamed they believe they are honor-bound to kill them for the shame of betrayal of everything the family and local community hold dear.

As ‘George’s’ friend put it, “[He] was a very brave man. He was a very good believer and follower of Jesus Christ. He loved Christ very much. He challenged his family for his faith in Jesus Christ. He was knowing that his family were going to kill him anytime but he didn’t fear death. He kept faith till his last breath and refused to renounce his new faith. He was martyred in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Source: World Watch Monitor



Prayers requested as dozens killed in Turkey Syria offensive

Friends In The West Note:

Friends, we are sharing this article today from BBC News and appealing to Christians everywhere to pray for all those affected by the Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria. We know that dozens have already been killed and yet another refugee crisis is developing as people flee their homes.

We are aware of a number of fellowships of Christians who speak the Kurdish language. They as well as thousands of others are facing a desperate situation with little relief in sight. Would you please pray for the relief of all those who are suffering.

Pro-Turkish Syrian National Army forces have suffered casualties in the fighting

Casualties are increasing as Turkey presses on with its cross-border offensive on Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.

At least 11 civilians have died and dozens of fighters from the Kurdish-led SDF and pro-Turkish factions have been killed, reports say.

The first death of a Turkish soldier was confirmed by Turkey’s military.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, amid growing international criticism of the offensive.

Turkey moved into northern Syria on Wednesday after the the US President, Donald Trump, pulled American troops out of the area.

Civilians have come under fire inside Turkey too

Analysts say the US withdrawal effectively gave Turkey the green light to begin its cross-border assault.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday announced plans to introduce a sanctions bill against Turkey

Turkey defended its offensive as a bid to create a “safe zone” free of Kurdish militias which could also house Syrian refugees.

Turkey regards the Kurdish militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which have controlled the cross-border areas – as “terrorists” who support an anti-Turkish insurgency.

The SDF have been key allies of the US in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group.

One major concern for the international community is the fate of thousands of suspected IS prisoners, including many foreign nationals, being guarded by Kurdish-led forces in the region.

What’s the latest on the fighting?

On Thursday, Turkish troops partly encircled the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

But while the Turkish military said its operation was going to plan, Kurdish sources and activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the offensive had not made much progress.

Turkish warplanes have struck targets in both towns, and video footage has shown columns of smoke rising above them. Tal Abyad’s only public hospital has been forced to close.

The Kurdish Red Crescent said there had been 11 confirmed civilian deaths so far and 28 serious injuries, mostly in Ras al-Ain and another border town, Qamishli. Some are children.

At least five people, including a Syrian baby, were reportedly killed in Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns.

The SOHR reported at least 29 deaths among the SDF and 17 from among pro-Turkish Syrian rebels, the Syrian National Army, as more than 10 villages fell into Turkish hands.

Media captionFootage from the start of the Turkish offensive

In a later report they said that seven members of pro-Turkish forces including a Turkish soldier had been killed as the SDF retook a village in Tal Abyad region.

Turkey’s military confirmed a soldier’s death, and said three others had been wounded. 

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said late on Thursday 228 Kurdish militants had been “neutralised” since the start of the operation.

What about displaced people?

A refugee crisis is developing. Some 64,000 people have already reportedly fled their homes, the International Rescue Committee aid organisation said.

Residents flee their home town of Ras al-Ain

Aid groups say as many as 450,000 could be forced to move.

According to aid workers on the ground, the vast majority of civilians have fled Tal Abyad and those who remain fear for their lives.

Meanwhile a statement by the UN refugee agency says the Turkish bombardment has affected key civilian infrastructure such as water pumping stations, dams, power stations and oil fields. Thousands of people could lose adequate access to clean water in Hasakeh region, it said.

Turkey wants to create a “safe zone” running for 480km (300 miles) along the Syrian side of the border but says it will not advance deeper than a planned 32km limit.

Presentational grey line

The groups on the ground

  • SDF – Syrian Democratic Forces – A multi-ethnic alliance of mostly Kurdish and Arab militias that has been the critical partner on the ground in Syria for the US-led multinational coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).
  • YPG – People’s Protection Units – The military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). It is the dominant force in the SDF. The Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) is the YPG’s all-female brigade.
  • PKK – Kurdistan Workers’ Party – A Kurdish rebel group that has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. It is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and EU. Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the PKK – a claim both groups deny. 
  • SNA – Syrian National Army – The new name for a loose alliance of Syrian rebel factions backed by Turkey previously known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA). SNA fighters are taking part in the ground offensive in north-eastern Syria. 
Presentational grey line

What has the reaction been?

The UN Security Council discussed the situation on Thursday at the request of its current five EU members – the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland – who are calling for Turkey to halt its military offensive.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his “deep concern” at the rising violence.

On Friday Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he had shared “serious concerns” about the operation in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

He expected Turkey, a Nato member, to “act with restraint”, he added.

Mr Erdogan has strongly defended the incursion, threatening to send some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts to Europe if the Turkish offensive is described as an occupation.

How is the incursion affecting the IS situation?

The SDF say they are holding more than 12,000 suspected IS members in seven prisons, and at least 4,000 of them are foreign nationals. The exact locations have not been revealed, but some are reportedly close to the Turkish border.

Two camps – Roj and Ain Issa – holding families of suspected IS members are inside the “safe zone”. 

On Friday the Kurdish-led authorities said discussions were under way on how to move the Ain Issa camp, which had been hit by shelling.

Turkey has said it will take responsibility for the IS prisoners it found during its offensive.

Source: BBC News



Worshippers attacked and beaten in Sri Lanka as violent intimidation of Christians continues

Six Christians on their way to church in Batticaloa district, Sri Lanka were attacked and beaten with sticks by around ten villagers on 21 September, in one of a series of incidents of intimidation and harassment targeted at believers in less than two weeks.

Five of the Christians were so badly injured that they were admitted to hospital. Local sources said the pastor and congregation have faced continuous harassment this year from the same group of villagers in Kalkudah.

Two of the mob of attackers were arrested and appeared before a magistrates’ court the following day.

In August, Bishop Asiri Perera, president of Sri Lanka’s Methodist Church, called for peace and appealed to Buddhists to be kind towards the Christians who live with them in their communities

Christians faced violent intimidation on 14 September when 15 police officers together with six Buddhist monks and around 100 villagers descended on Zion Revival Church, Gampaha district and demanded that Christians stop conducting worship services.

The police officer in charge threatened to arrest the pastor if worship continued and ordered him never to enter the village again. The pastor was then ordered to go to the Katana Police Station for further questioning.

On 11 September, a pastor in Passara, Badulla district, was told that three villagers had petitioned against the construction of the Assemblies of God church and his request for financial help from the Passara local authorities was blocked. This was despite the church having already received all necessary approvals for construction.

In August, Bishop Asiri Perera, the president of Sir Lanka’s Methodist Church, said Christians in Sri Lanka were not being treated as equal citizens in their own country, when he raised concerns about police inaction following an attack on a Bible college student by Buddhist monks.

From National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka

Source: Barnabas Fund



Six Christian schoolgirls, others abducted by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria

By Leah MarieAnn Klett, Christian Post Reporter

Protesters gather during a demonstration against Fulani herdsmen killings, in Abuja, Nigeria March 16, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have kidnapped six teenage girls and two staff members at gunpoint from a Christian-run high school in north-central Nigeria amid escalating violence in the region.

Sources told Morning Star News, a nonprofit persecution watchdog outlet, that armed Fulani invaded Engravers’ College in Kakau Daji village, in Chikun County Local Government Area near Kaduna city, on October 2 as students and staff members fled into the bushes.

Eight victims — Joel Adamu, the vice-principal of academics, the house mistress, and six female students — were taken away at gunpoint.

Shunom Giwa, vice principal of Engravers’ College, said that five armed herdsmen appeared at his house and ordered him to lie down. A few minutes later, another set of the armed Fulani herdsmen appeared at his house with Joel Adamu, the school’s vice-principal of academics, and they ordered his colleague to lie on the floor beside him.

“When I discovered that their attention was on my colleague, I just ran into the bush, and on realizing I was escaping, they shot at me, but fortunately they didn’t get me,” Giwa said. “They searched for me without success, and when they couldn’t get me, they started looking for where the students were.”

“When we recovered from the shock of what was happening, we started doing a headcount to know which students were missing,” Giwa said. “We are trusting God for the protection of the captives and hoping they would be released without being hurt.”

The kidnappers have contacted school officials with their demands for ransom, initially demanding 30 million naira (US$82,327) per student before negotiating lower.

While the school has a secular curriculum, it includes a Christian perspective, and students take Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject. The school has a student population of 100, with rampant insecurity in the state compelling some parents to withdraw their children from the school, Giwa said.

Julde Juli, whose 15-year-old daughter was among those kidnapped, told Morning Star News he is trusting God with his daughter’s future.

“I was shocked on receiving the news of the kidnapping of my daughter and other students,” he said. “I just pray that nothing happens to them, and that they come out alive. I trust that our God is sovereign over all things. We are trusting that through divine intervention our children would be rescued.”

Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo said authorities are making efforts to rescue the captives.

“The Command immediately mobilized combined teams of anti-kidnapping, SARS, and conventional police to the area for possible rescue of the victims and arresting the perpetrators of the unfortunate incident,” he said.

Kaduna Gov. Nasir el-Rufai told media that with the latest spate of kidnappings, Fulani “bandits” are likely working alongside elements of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

“We have been receiving intelligence some three months ago that the bandits have connected with some elements of Boko Haram, and they will be targeting schools to kidnap children because they know that that is what makes the news,” El-Rufai said.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western” or “non-Islamic” education is a sin, made headlines in 2014 after abducting 276 schoolgirls from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in Borno state.

Fulani herdsmen are believed to be responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Nigerians since the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from the Fulani tribe, took office in 2015.

In September, herdsmen kidnapped and killed a pastor’s wife in Nigeria’s Kaduna state after breaking her legs so she could not escape. Earlier in September, suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot and killed Baptist pastor Alhamdu Mangadus of Nasara Baptist Church in Asso as he worked on his farm.

Nigeria is the 12th most dangerous place in the world for Christians, according to Open Doors’ annual World Watch List.

Source: The Christian Post