By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - The murder of Swiss evangelical missionary Beatrice Stöckli by Islamic militants in Mali has prompted an aid group to appeal for prayers.
Barnabas Fund told Worthy News on Tuesday that Stöckli was killed in the West African nation after the militants kidnapped her four years.
The group, citing Swiss sources, said she was murdered in September ”by members of the Islamist terrorist organization Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslim (JNIM).”
”An affiliate of al-Qaeda in Mali and West Africa, JNIM has been responsible for numerous attacks on Christians and Westerners since its formation in March 2017,” Barbabas Fund added.
Its announcement came as French forces announced Tuesday that they killed more than 50 terrorists and captured 4 four others in an operation in Mali.
The French defense minister said the action was “a major blow to al-Qaeda” the group, which was also linked to other attacks, including against the United States on September 11, 2001.
News of the killing of the missionary was only recently confirmed by French aid worker Sophie Pétronin, released in October by Islamic insurgents after a long captivity, Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.
ABDUCTED FROM HOME
Stöckli, who was in her 40s, was abducted by armed men from her home in Timbuktu, northern Mali, in January 2016.
She had been previously abducted in April 2012 ”and endured nine days of torture and threats at the hands of jihadi group, Ansar al-Dine, before she was freed, ” Barnabas Fund recalled. Despite the dangers, ”On her release, she had decided to return to Timbuktu to continue her missionary work.”
Barnabas Fund urged its supporters to ”Lift the family of Beatrice Stöckli, asking that they will be comforted and that her faithful service to the Lord will be a source of joy and hope to them.”
The Christian group said it wants to ”Pray that her work proclaiming the Word of God will be long remembered and continue to bear fruit in Mali.”
Barbabas Fund, which supports persecuted Christians in heavily Islamic nations, says it hopes ”the men of violence who abducted her will be led to a ”personal encounter” with the Prince of Peace,” another name for Jesus Christ.
Referring to Bible verse Matthew 11:28, Barnabas Fund noted that He ”alone can take away the burden of heavy-laden hearts.”
The killing of the Swiss missionary came amid broader concerns about the nearly half a million Christians in the mainly Muslim West African nation of some 20 million people.
”Located in one of the hotbed regions for jihadists, the situation in Mali is part of the overall rise of Islamic militancy in the entire region, ” explained advocacy group Open Doors.
Last year in March, more than 100 people were killed in attacks by Islamic militants. Reportedly, most of the victims were Christians, according to Christian investigators. In June 2019, more than 90 people were killed in Sobame Da, a mainly Christian village in central Mali’s Mopti region, Open Doors said.
In 2013, France intervened militarily after a government request following the capture of the town of Konna. French troops overran Islamist strongholds, but tensions remained.
Additionally, a jihadist insurgency in Mali's north and central regions continues.