FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Muslim Radicals Attack During Church Service
Murder, Amputate Christians [Update]
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(March 20, 2008) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has investigated an attack on Christians that we first reported on March 7, 2008 (“Muslim Radicals Kill Three Christians and Wound Dozens in Southern Ethiopia”). Upon further investigation, we have learned that the attack occurred on March 2, 2008, during a Sunday morning church service, and resulted in the death of only one Christian, while 17 more were injured.
Christians in this remote village had seen three people lying in pools of blood after the attack and assumed that they had all died. Our sources contacted us before verifying that all three of the seriously wounded had died. The name of one murdered victim was Tulu Mosessa, who was a father of eight children.
Christians from the area told ICC that Muslim radicals simultaneously attacked Kale Hiwot church in Chebbi Nensebo village and Birhane Kirstos church in the nearby Tirsu Nensebo village.
The Kale Hiwot Church was the scene of most of the violence on the day of the attack. There were about 200 people attending the service, when a group of Muslim radicals surrounded the church and barricaded the doors shut. They then proceeded to break in through the windows and started hacking at the churchgoers with machetes. It is clear that these attacks were well planned and carefully executed to cause as much bloodshed as possible.
Muslim radicals had attacked the church before and burned it down, which the Christians in the village rebuilt. During the most recent attack, someone was able to raise the alarm and the local police quickly arrived at the scene, averting further bloodshed. One policeman who was wounded while trying to quell the violence was taken to a hospital in Addis Ababa .
Eight of the seriously wounded Christians were taken to a hospital in Awassa. ICC was able to speak to one of the eight who had been wounded, Ahmed Jamal [not his real name], who is a Muslim convert to Christianity. The Muslim radicals cut off his left hand with their machetes during the attack. When ICC asked him if he knew his attackers, he said, “Our attackers are our neighbors, with whom we ate and drank.”
Asked what motivated the Muslims to attack, he said, “They were taught [about] Jihad.” Though he is lying on a hospital bed, Ahmed Jamal is worried about further attacks by Muslim radicals. He said, “We fear for our families [who remain in the village].”
Others with wounds from the machete attack who are currently in the hospital in Awassa include (names intentionally withheld) a 28-year-old man who lost his left hand, a 32-year-old man whose head was slashed, a 20-year-old man whose right and left hands were slashed, a 31-year-old man whose lung was pierced, an 18-year-old man whose backbone was slashed, a 19-year-old man whose backbone was also injured, and a 5-year-old girl whose right hand was badly injured.
Another eight Christians with minor injuries are currently receiving medical treatment in the town of Worka , which is near the villages where the attacks took place.
ICC has also learned that nine of the attackers have been imprisoned by Ethiopian authorities. One of the imprisoned is a local government official, Hussein Berriso. ICC sources said that 150 machetes were discovered in his house after the attacks.
In related development, on March 10, 2008, radical Muslims burned down the house of a local evangelist. The radicals were enraged because the evangelist had helped to transport the eight wounded Christians to Awassa hospital.
ICC’s president in a statement said, This is not an isolated incident in Ethiopia but rather part of a trend of radical Muslims attacking Christians. Ethiopian officials must get serious about protecting Christians. They must target radical Muslim leaders and centers or the Ethiopia could be in danger of becoming another Nigeria with an intractable religious split.
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.