By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
Zamboanga, Mindanao Island (ANS) -- Fourteen Christians, including three children, have been brutally killed in an attack on a Christian village in the southern Philippines by Islamic separatists.
According to The Barnabas Fund, some 50 rebels entered the village, located on the Zamboanga peninsula, on the southern island of Mindanao, on February 19 and rounded up the defenseless villagers before opening fire on them. One child is reported to have died in his mother’s arms, three others were injured and three more are reported missing. Grenades were also thrown into homes, others were raked with bullets and set ablaze.
The Barnabas Fund reports that Islamic separatists in the majority-Christian Philippines have been fighting for an independent Islamic homeland in the south of the country for the 5 million Muslim Filipino community since 1972.
Two Islamic militant groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), mainly operative on Mindanao, and the smaller and more extreme Abu Sayyaf, mainly in Basilan and Jolo, are at the forefront of the current violence.
The army began a new offensive against the MILF in Mindanao on February 10 in which some 200 rebels are reported to have been killed and over 80,000 local residents displaced. The attack on the Christian village is believed to have been staged in response to this, although no group has claimed responsibility.
Majority Christian villages are often targeted by Islamic militants. Christian ministers and missionaries have in the past been singled out for particular torture and gruesome execution because of their faith.
Please pray for healing for those who were wounded and comfort for the grieving relatives of those who were killed in this latest terrible attack. Pray also for peace and a final end to the Islamic separatist conflict in the southern Philippines, in which so many Christians have lost their lives.
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