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Somalia Christian Men Killed, Children Kidnapped

13 July 2006

BosNewsLife News Center

Fighting is spreading in troubled Somalia . MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Somalia were bracing for more attacks Thursday, July 13, amid reports that at least three Christian men were killed in the capital Mogadishu, as Muslim violence spread across this Horn of Africa nation.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Kenya , “some children of Somali Christian refugees” were kidnapped by Muslim relatives and taken to Islamic institutions in Somalia for ‘rehabilitation’,” said the well-informed World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-RLC), which promote freedom of religion.

It was not immediately clear how many children had been kidnapped, but WEA-RLC said the Kenyan police and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were investigating. “It’s hard to imagine how the situation could improve in Somalia , wracked with violence and crippled by it,” the group added.

It said the three men killed in Mogadishu in recent days were hit by “by automatic gunfire as they returned home from a prayer meeting.” Christians say the situation in Somalia has deteriorated since last month when Mogadishu was taken over by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the country’s strongest militant group, which has pledged to implement tough Sharia, or Muslim, law in Somalia .

MUSLIMS THREATENED

Muslims who do not pray five times a day will be put to death, the new supreme leader of the UIC said. “He who does not perform prayer will be considered as infidel and our Sharia law orders that person to be killed,” said Sheikh Abdalla Ali, who runs a Sharia court in the Somali capital.

Forces loyal to the UIC enforcing Sharia reportedly shot and killed two people at the screening of a banned World Cup soccer broadcast this month, while dispersing the crowd of teenagers watching it

“Some Somalis and Western journalists expressed relief the [previous reign] of the warlords had ended, that the fighting was over and the ICU was bringing peace and security to Mogadishu ,” said WEA-RLC Researcher Elizabeth Kendal. “However, the rise of the ICU is very bad news for Somalia ‘s small Christian [minority]. The situation has gone from dangerous and horrific to totally desperate,” she said.

The country of roughly 10 million people has been a battleground for feuding militia groups since the toppling of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Kendal said her organization asked supporters for “prayers urgently” for Somali Christians, both inside Somalia and those living as refugees in neighboring states, including Kenya . The WEA and its Religious Liberty Commission claim to represent some 150 million evangelical Christians in 115 countries.