Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church- Nigeria & Iraq
Here are some of the latest news stories from Nigeria and Iraq: Nigeria: Boko Haram Continues Advance in Borno State Various media report that the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has taken control of the Nigerian state of Borno’s second largest town of Bama after fierce fighting with government forces. It appears that the militants’ initial efforts to take Bama Monday were thwarted, but they returned overnight in greater numbers. According to Reuters, there have been heavy casualties and as many as 5,000 people are fleeing. The government has not confirmed the report, but if true, it will be a significant victory for Boko Haram. Bama is 45 miles north of the state capital of Maiduguri and the home of a large army base which was targeted in the attack. Sadly, it appears that the army in an effort to bomb the militants killed many of their own soldiers. Boko Haram, responsible for the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Chibok in April, appears relentless in its fight for the establishment of an Islamic state in Africa’s most populated country. Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has announced, in a recent online video, the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in towns and villages it has seized in northeastern Nigeria. Nigeria is ranked No. 14 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. Iraq: Islamic State Rampage Causing Flight from Homes, Massive Loss of Life https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2014/09/article_3329416.html/ When the Islamic State (IS) captured Mosul on June 10, the most devastating part of its seizure was its outright targeting of all non-Sunni Muslim groups. This has resulted in massive loss of life, forced conversions and seizure of homes for Iraq’s minority Christians, Shia Muslims, Yazidis and Turkmen. Since then, IS has steadily moved north of Mosul into the Nineveh Plain, a predominantly Christian area. In total, more than 100,000 people have had to flee the villages and towns of Qaraqosh, Mosul and the Nineveh plain. With many thousands of people internally displaced, temporary shelters are overflowing in Kurdistan. Limited resources and so many in need have made an already difficult situation worse. At the same time reports are coming to light about continued acts of violence committed by IS, as well as the cruelties resulting from IS takeovers. Due to the extreme dangers and risks to locals, these reports are often from a single source and cannot be cross-checked. The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports that the bodies of George David and his son Saad David were recently found by their Muslim neighbor at their home in Bashiqa. The town is historically an Assyrian Christian village in the Nineveh Plain, but is now occupied by IS. The neighbor noticed an unusual smell, so he entered their home where he found the bodies, and then buried them at a church. According to AINA, he suspected that since both the father and son were deaf and mute they may not have known to leave after IS entered the town. In Bashiqa, the body of a 70-year-old Assyrian Christian man was found slumped over in his chair at home. According to AINA it is believed that all three died from starvation. AINA also reports that a three-year-old Assyrian girl, Christina Khader Ebada, was abducted from her family as they were trying to leave Qaraqosh. On Aug. 25, AINA said that the girl was taken from her family at a checkpoint. IS had escorted the family along with other residents from their homes to the checkpoint where they were told them to leave and never return. Her mother said Christina was hysterical as a heavily bearded man separated them and took her away. The Ebadas are one of several Assyrian families who chose not to leave Qaraqosh when the Kurdish forces withdrew and IS took charge on Aug. 7. Christina’s mother was later interviewed on the local Assyrian TV channel, Ishtar TV. Prior to IS’ occupation, Qaraqosh was the largest Christian city in Iraq. Since Aug. 7 more than 50,000 Christians have fled. Iraq is ranked No. 4 on the World Watch List. To support Open Doors’ relief ministry in Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.