Displaying items by tag: IS
According to military sources, suspected IS-linked extremists decapitated a pastor in Cabo Delgado on 15 December and forced his wife to carry his head to the police station. The monstrous act took place amidst a four-year long insurgency ravaging the country, leaving over 3,000 people dead and almost 100,000 displaced. Pray for the Lord to provide comfort to the wife of this slain pastor, and that He would heal her of the trauma she has had to endure. In a statement after the attack, IS boasted that its affiliate, Al-Shabab (not linked to Somali terror group), had killed dozens of security personnel and Christians, including westerners from what the statement termed ‘Crusader nations.’
Security forces in Uganda have shot dead a Muslim cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Abas Kirevu, accused of working with an armed group linked to suicide bombings in Kampala. He had recruited for cells run by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) - rebels who have pledged allegiance to IS. On 16 November four people were killed and over thirty injured by attackers on motorbikes who blew themselves up in the city: IS claimed responsibility, but officials have blamed the ADF. Twenty-one people have been arrested since the attack, in what police have described as the dismantling of ADF terrorist cells in Kampala and across the country. A police spokesperson said 13 suspects, including several children, had been intercepted while trying to cross the border into DR Congo. Also, on 17 November four suspected ADF operatives were killed near the border.
A large explosion, claimed by IS, tore through a Shi’ite mosque in Kandahar during Friday prayers, killing at least 47 people. That bombing was the third in twelve days, and the deadliest since US forces left in August. It is also the first major IS attack in southern Afghanistan, raising concerns that the group is expanding its reach. Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) says Islamic militant groups do not always support each other; they are all seeking power. US and allied forces withdrew and created a power vacuum that the Taliban want to fill. However, IS wants to take control and plays on the fears of people by creating instability through terrorist attacks. Afghanistan will be unstable as long as there is a power struggle. VOM believes religious freedom underpins all other freedoms. Pray for religious freedom and for the churches to grow and be salt and light.
Gunmen killed over 160 people in Solhan village, still reeling from a coup and instability. It was the worst attack on civilians in years. Heavily armed militants executed members of a local defense force, killed civilians, destroyed houses, and burned the local market to the ground. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Villagers who fled are returning to bury the dead and clear charred sites that used to be homes. The country declared three days of national mourning. Government officials, blaming the attack on ‘barbaric’ jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and IS, vowed to ‘neutralise the terrorists’ responsible. Al-Qaeda and IS fighters move regularly between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The attack is consistent with other militant assaults on villages. Children and elderly are often burnt in their houses because they can’t escape.
We prayed recently for the capture of terrorists in Indonesiawho killed four Christians. See ‘When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks’ (Qur’an 47:4). Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with extremist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades. After President Suharto’s fall in 1998, Indonesian Muslims who had travelled to join the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed various militant groups and launched multiple terrorist attacks. IS has capitalised on Indonesia’s Islamist networks to boost its recruitment efforts and carry out attacks in the country. IS propaganda is singling out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment.
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
The army in Burkina Faso needs to contain spreading violence by al-Qaeda and IS. More than thirty men, women, and children were killed by 100 rebels burning down homes and shooting people trying to escape. Survivors are praying for peace and are very afraid. One week earlier two Spanish journalists and an Irish conservationist were killed, and a soldier went missing when an anti-poaching patrol was ambushed by rebels. Another 18 people were killed in a different village. Last year the government enlisted volunteer militiamen to help the army, but they incurred retaliation by the rebels attacking them and the communities they helped. Armed groups have driven religious and ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to boost recruitment among marginalised communities. The UN said worsening violence has led to one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises.
IS has taken a firm grip on territory in Mozambique, far from its original strongholds in Syria. Even though it is losing territory in most other places, it has killed and kidnapped thousands in the country since 2017. Sphiwe, a Christian worker with Trans World Radio, says, ‘They behead people, they attack homes and villages. People live in fear. It causes displacement, as people move away to protect themselves.’ Many fear the next attack so much they avoid working in the fields. Christian broadcasting continues in troubled areas and also provides support for refugees. Sphiwe says, ‘It is emotionally draining. Sometimes they are adopted or taken in with other families, so that one family may end up having fifty people within one home because they are trying to help out.’ Pray for those fleeing from trauma in Mozambique to find hope and life in Jesus.
Christians in Iraq remain shaken by the twin suicide bombing in Baghdad. It was the first mass-casualty attack since 2018, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than a hundred. IS took credit, stirring fears of a resurgence. Samuel of Redemptive Stories says believers are shaken, but they’re pressing on to make Christ known. ‘I had the privilege to talk to a pastor on the very night of the suicide attacks and he said, ‘Our spiritual condition as a church is well; our physical condition is well; but our emotional state, as a church, is sad. The church had seen three years of almost peaceable activity. Now suddenly, out of nowhere, there are these significant attacks. The hope of Christ shines brightly amid such tumult.’
On 27 November, around 7:30 am, Nei was having breakfast with her husband, Yasa, and saw about ten unknown people visiting Naka, at a nearby house. Soon after that terrorists Ali Kalora and Jaka Ramadan entered the house and took Yasa and Nei outside. Yasa was tied up, stabbed in the back, then decapitated with a machete. One of the terrorists, near Yasa’s house, gave a signal to villagers to flee, allowing several witnesses and children to escape. Naka and his son Pedi were set on fire, as was their house and eight other homes. Terrorists also torched the Salvation Army house of worship. Another Christian, Pinu, was stabbed to death. Approximately 750 people fled their homes after the attack. Police suspect militants with allegiance to IS carried out the violence, as the leader of the outlawed group was seen at the scene of the crime.