MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (Worthy News)-- Islamic militants have killed the leader of an underground church in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, a well-informed Christian rights group said Monday, November 16.
U.S.-based International Christian Concern (ICC) said it has learned that two "masked members" of the militant al-Shabab group shot Pastor Ali Hussein Weheliye on October 10, while he was returning home from a worship service.
"The Islamists left the pastor for dead. He was later taken to Darful Shifa Hospital where he died of bullet wounds on October 20," ICC added in a statement to Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife. He was the 13th known Christian to have been assassinated in Somalia this year, the group said.
The pastor reportedly converted from Islam to Christianity in 1999 while working in Somalia’s capital as a linguist. In 2002, he started pastoring an underground house church, ICC said.
He is survived by his wife and a daughter "who are now in hiding fearing for their lives," the group explained.
The attack came after Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants declared Somalia "an Islamic state" vowing to eradicate Christians and impose Sharia, or Muslim, law in several areas, according to rights activists.
"This year alone, the group has killed a dozen Somali Christians. Several Christians have also left the country due to the intense persecution," ICC said. Additionally, thieves have had their legs and hands amputated, while women accused of adultery were flogged and stoned.
Al-Shabab militants have also reportedly forced citizens, including children, to watch the gruesome punishments being meted out. "The underground church in Somalia is enduring untold suffering. Al-Shabab and other Islamic extremist groups are hunting down and killing Christians," said ICC's Regional Manager for Africa and South East Asia, Jonathan Racho.
"By killing Christians, the Islamic extremists have repeatedly demonstrated utter disregard to human life and freedom of religion," Racho added. ICC said it has asked Christians to "pray for God to comfort and strengthen Pastor Ali’s wife and daughter" and "for courage and wisdom to underground churches in Somalia."
Observers believe until a more powerful group emerges to bring law and order to the country, ordinary Somalis are not likely to challenge al-Shabab.
After the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia and the election of an Islamist leader as president of Somalia's transitional federal government earlier this year, al-Shabab apparently formed alliances with various clans and Islamist groups opposed to the government to maintain the group's grip on power.
Somalia has been without effective central leadership since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Years of fighting between rival warlords and an inability to deal with famine and disease have led to the deaths of up to one million people, according to international estimates. (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).
Source: Worthy News
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A human rights group has learned that members of al-Shabab (a Somali Islamic extremist group) have killed yet another leader of an underground church in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu, reports MNN.
Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) says , reported that on Oct. 10, Pastor Ali Hussein Weheliye was returning home from a worship service when two masked members of al-Shabab ambushed and shot him. He was later taken to Darful Shifa Hospital.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia Jonathan Racho says Pastor Ali died of his injuries. "This is very sad news because this year alone, Ali is the 15th Christian to be killed by Islamic extremists in Somalia."
According to ICC, Ali converted from Islam to Christianity in 1999 while working in Somalia's capital as a linguist. In 2002, he started pastoring an underground house church. He is survived by his wife and a daughter who are now in hiding fearing for their lives.
ICC reported that Al-Shabab has previously declared Somalia as an Islamic state, vowing to eradicate Christians. Just this year, the group has killed a dozen Somali Christians. Several Christians have also left the country due to the intense persecution. Racho says, "Christians in that country are underground. They're living double lives. Some of them are even going to the mosques just to appear to the Islamists that they are just Muslims."
Racho says, "The underground church in Somalia is enduring untold suffering. Al-Shabab and other Islamic extremist groups are hunting down and killing Christians. By killing Christians, the Islamic extremists have repeatedly demonstrated utter disregard to human life and freedom of religion."
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991. Racho says Al-Shabab is growing and is becoming increasingly more dangerous. "They have also a strong link with al Qaeda, so it has become the new Taliban and the new Afghanistan." Somalia is quickly becoming a haven for extremists.
While persecution is an daily fear, Racho say it's not stopping outreach. "There are many who are risking their lives day and night to share their faith and to help Somalis to come to Christ and there are many Muslims who are embracing Christianity in that country despite the violence and the killing that they face when they convert to Christianity."
ICC is asking you to pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen Ali's wife and daughter. In addition, ICC requests prayer for courage and wisdom for the underground churches in Somalia.
15th Christian leader killed in Somalia, says ICC
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