By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (ANS) -- A Muslim gunman opened fire on a Somali house church where Christians were worshipping on January 2, seriously injuring the church leader.
According to the he Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org , the worshippers were attacked in the Southern town of Tayeglow, 320 kilometers from the capital, Mogadishu.
ICC says the leader of the house church, known as "S," was hit by gunfire several times and assumed dead for about an hour before he regained consciousness. He is currently seeking medical care and his status is critical. The gunman is reportedly still threatening other Christians in the surrounding area.
The ICC report states: "During the last month, Ethiopian troops assisted the provisional Somali government in pushing back the powerful Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which had taken over and imposed Sharia law in much of Southern Somalia. Ethiopia and Somalia have been engaged in two other wars in the past. For many Somalis, Ethiopia is the enemy, and because most Somalis are Muslim, and Ethiopia is considered Christian, Somalis view Christians as enemies also. In fact, there are gunmen in the country who believe they are fully justified in attacking and killing innocent Christians."
Although the UIC is not currently in power, the combination of fresh anti-Ethiopian sentiment and the last ten years of civil and governmental chaos will likely worsen an already deadly situation for Somali Christians in 2007, the ICC report added.
Jeff King, President of ICC, said, "Even though the UIC took a thorough beating from Ethiopian forces, it does not mean they have disappeared or have no lingering influence. The desire to oppress Christianity existed long before Ethiopia put pressure on Somalia, and this house church attack is a red flag for an increase in violence and persecution for Christian believers in the Horn of Africa.â€
ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.