The Vatican news agency Fides reports today that two new mass graves containing a total of 30 bodies were found in Sadad, an ancient Christian town of some 15,000 people between Damascus and Homs, bringing to 45 the number of residents killed there by Islamist militias since October 21.
Surviving relatives and friends uncovered the graves after government forces recently recaptured the town from rebels. Those killed were reported by the local Syriac Orthodox metropolitan, who presided over 30 of their funerals this week, to be Christian civilians, including women and children. A list of their names was provided to the Catholic press. The Islamist rebel militias of Al Nusra Front and Daash were identified by eyewitnesses as responsible for this war crime.
The battle also resulted in the destruction and looting of the town, including its homes, hospitals, schools, government buildings and electrical, telephone, and water capabilities. St. Theodore's Syriac Orthodox Church and a number of the 4,000-year-old Assyrian town's 14 other churches and a monastery have been desecrated. more >>
A large-scale battle between Nigerian forces and Islamic militants lasting over 5 hours in the state of Yobe has left 128 people dead, local sources have reported, raising questions about how much control the government has over the troubled region.
Details are still scarce about the violence that occurred late last week, but figures quoted by Nigerian military and hospitals state that 95 of the dead are militants, 23 are soldiers and eight others are police officers.
Two weeks ago, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, counter-intelligence officers presented a briefing that identified the American Family Association – a non-profit Christian organization – as a "domestic hate group." This was not the first time something bizarre like this had happened. On another army base, evangelical Christians and Catholics were listed as prime examples of religious extremism. On yet another, the Founding Fathers were portrayed as extreme.
Then, last week, a similar report came out about a briefing at Fort Hood in Texas where Tea Party supporters, in addition to evangelical Christians, were labeled as extremists.
Each time, senior military officials downplayed the shocking classifications as isolated incidents. But a string of incidents reflect a pattern. more >>
Soldiers attending a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood say they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
A soldier who attended the Oct. 17th briefing told me the counter-intelligence agent in charge of the meeting spent nearly a half hour discussing how evangelical Christians and groups like the American Family Association were "tearing the country apart."
Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, is advising the soldier and has launched an investigation into the incident. more >>
A feud over land in a city south of Cairo, Egypt between two Coptic families has resulted in five deaths and nine injuries after gunfire broke out Wednesday, local authorities are reporting.
The conflict took place Wednesday in the city of Malawi in the province of Minya, south of Cairo, when two quarreling families reportedly opened gunfire on each other over a dispute regarding land. A local police official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that three of the nine who were injured in the feud are in critical condition. Land disputes in the North African country's rural areas have long been an issue, but they have escalated since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak and the subsequent instability of the government and security forces.
Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million population, the majority being Muslim. Recent attacks on Copts in the country by factions of Islamic extremists have resulted in community leaders calling on the government to take a proactive role in protecting religious minorities. more >>
An increase in violent activity, including bombings in Northern Iraq, is forcing Christians to flee the region in panic, even though the area is considered one of the safest in the country until recent developments.
The growing number of attacks in the region include a Sept. 22 suicide bomb that went off at the home of Christian politician Emad Youhanna in Rafigayn, which injured 19 people including three of Youhanna's children, World Watch Monitor reported. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for a number of other recent attacks, while Christians in surrounding villages have complained about harassment from police.
"It remains urgent to pray for the future of Christianity in this country," watchdog group Open Doors USA said. "If the present trend continues, there might be no Christian left in the whole of Iraq by 2020." The group added that although a number of Christians are still choosing to stay, their concern over safety is growing, and they may be left with little choice but to leave. more >>