5-Year-Old Christian Boy Kidnapped, Killed in Iraq

A five-year-old Christian boy was kidnapped and executed by an unknown group who demanded a ransom of $50,000 for his release, a persecution watchdog group reported this week.

Tony Adwar Shawell was kidnapped on March 5. His body was found with numerous bullet wounds on May 11, according to International Christian Concern.

Since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 it has become commonplace for criminal gangs and Islamic militants to kidnap and murder Christians. Christians are often mistakenly believed to have rich relatives in the West, making them a prime target for kidnappings. The identity of the Shawell's killers is so far unknown.

Juliana Taimoorazy, president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, said in a statement to International Christian Concern that it had received reports on Monday of the discovery of the boy's body.

She stressed that Christians only want to live peacefully with the other people of Iraq and asked that the international community unite in helping the people of Iraq. She called on the U.S. government to take notice of the situation and demanded that the State Department pass legislation to protect Christians there.

Jonathan Racho, the ICC regional manager for Africa and the Middle East, commented, "This latest unconscionable act indicates the deteriorating situation for Christian minorities in Iraq. It is also a clear sign of the danger that all Iraqi Christians face in the country. We call upon the Iraqi and the United States government to put an end to the systematic extermination of Christians from Iraq."