NEWS ALERT: Militants Kill 11 Christians In Iraq, Somalia

Monday, July 13, 2009

By Worthy News Staff

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News) -- At least 11 Christians were killed in Iraq and Somalia by suspected militants over the weekend, Christian rights investigators said Monday, July 13.

Open Doors, which investigates reports of Christian persecution, said it had monitored reports of that three Christians and a Muslim were killed and sixteen others injured when a car bom exploded near the Virgin Mary in east Baghdad. Another Christian, identified as Rizko Aziz, was reportedly shot and killed outside his home in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Several more churches were also bombed in Baghdad late Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12, news reports said.  “If this (violence) continues, there will be no Christians left in Iraq," one survivor told reporters.

Churches have estimated that from over half a million Christians living in Iraq several years ago at least 165,000 fled to neighboring nations Syria, Jordan or Western countries.

Open Doors suggested that many more may have left as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that at least two million Iraqis fled the country since 2003 and another two million are displaced inside the country.


"With U.S. troops pulling back from cities on July 1 and these weekend bombings, Iraqi Christians fear that this could mark a resurgence of anti-Christian violence," said Open Doors President Carl Moeller. "Christians have always been caught in the crossfire in Iraq,”,he added.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but there has been concerns among minority Christians over growing Islamic extremism in the country. In Somalia, Al-Shabaab, the country's hard-line insurgents, reportedly beheaded seven Somalis for being "Christians" and "spies." Reuters news agency said the incident took place in the south-central town of Baidoa.

Although al-Shabaab has carried out similar severe punishments in regions under its control, the reported executions are the largest known number done at the same time.

Open Doors said it comes at a time when Somalia is believed to have a 99.95% Islamic following. “There are only a handful Somali Christians inside the country and they have been forced underground. Some Christians have taken refuge in neighboring countries.”


The reported decapitations follow an incident in Mogadishu on June 25 in which al-Shabaab amputated a hand and a leg each of four teenagers accused of stealing mobile phones and other possessions, Open Doors said. “With these actions al-Shabaab is extending its reign of terror across Somalia.”

Somalia is ranked number 5 on this year's Open Doors World Watch List which ranks what the group calls the world's “top persecutors” of Christians. The previous year Somalia was ranked Number 12.

"Those who come to Christ in Somalia do so at a huge risk. Most of them are Muslim Background Believers who face unbelievable pressure and persecution, even death as reported this weekend," added Moeller.

"Somalia desperately needs our prayers as conditions deteriorate. This country needs both physical and spiritual nourishment. Please join me in praying for the tremendous needs of Somalia and for the few brave believers inside the country."


Open Doors said the latest attacks come amid concerns that some 100 million Christians worldwide "suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation."

Open Doors said it supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through" Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. "