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07/14/2023 Mali (International Christian Concern) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report yesterday detailing several Jihadist attacks in Mali this year. In the report, survivors from eight documented attacks between January and June were interviewed, suggesting that hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands forced to flee since January.

A humanitarian worker in the Ménaka region told HRW that the attacks involve widespread “Looting, targeted killings, [and] kidnappings sometimes followed by demands of ransom.” They added, “Islamic State fighters have no mercy for the population.”

Mali lies within Africa’s Sahel, a belt of land immediately south of the Sahara Desert that stretches east-west across the continent. The region has received global attention due to the marked rise in extremism experienced over the past decade in what is now considered an epidemic of jihadism.

Several witnesses reported to HRW that insurgents carried the Islamic State flag during attacks and yelled “Allahu Akbar [God is Great]!” while enforcing a strict Sharia law form.

“Two men said they fled Bourra with their families to Ansongo, one in February and the other in May, following repeated threats, looting, and harassment by ISGS (Islamic State Greater Sahara) fighters.” Read the report. “They said that since 2022, the group’s fighters have ‘raped our women’ and imposed Sharia (Islamic law) on their village, requiring them to pay zakat [religious tax] and adhere to strict morality and dress codes.”

Jihadists have had control over much of northern Mali since a coup attempt in 2012, which has enabled them to recruit, train, and equip fighters for nearly a decade. From there, fighters have crossed the borders into Niger and Burkina Faso, persecuting anyone who opposes their extremist agenda, especially Christian believers.

One man explained to HRW what living under the Islamic State was like: “They veiled our women and prevented them from going about their business. They asked us to pay the zakat. They beat and threatened us. There are no reasons for these attacks. It is to terrorize us, to impose their law and prevent us from reacting while they loot our animals and steal our property.”

Please pray for all those persecuted, that God’s love would comfort and strengthen them in their trials, and that He will use his church to reach all in need. Please also pray that those who persecute the church will experience God’s love, accept it, and be granted true repentance.

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