A Christian pastor in India was reportedly beaten to death in the east Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state by hundreds of Maoist rebels who thought he was a police informer.
Fides News Agency reported that Pastor Yohan Maraiah was killed on July 29 by Maoists, who left a note at the murder scene accusing him of being "a police informer" and "accumulating disproportionate wealth exploiting Tribals."
Sajan K George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said this was not the first time the pastor had been targeted.
"He suffered several attacks and had his church torched more than once. However, he remained strong in his unswerving faith in Jesus Christ," George said.
According to police reports, at least 100 militants affiliated with Naxalite, which is India's form of Communism, came to the village to take the pastor away. They dragged him to a nearby forest where they mercilessly beat him to death, and left him on the outskirts of the village.
The Maoist insurgency, a Communist faction, seeks to overthrow the government in India through violent means. BBC News reported back in July that 10 paramilitary soldiers in Bihar state were killed in clashes with Maoist rebels, with the insurgents carving out strongholds in a number of states across the country.
The rebels present themselves as fighting against the state in order to defend the rights of tribal people and the rural poor. Maoist guerrillas are also active in other areas across Asia, including in the Philippines. The decades-long insurgency there has left close to 150,000 people dead since it began in the late 1960s.
Christians in India face various different dangers, from Maoist rebels to Hindu extremists, with the central government offering little protection. Morning Star News reported back in June that Christians living in the Hunter village in the state of Jharkhand have been banned from worshiping by police, at the same time when they are threatened with death by Hindu radicals.
The report said that the Christians were threatened with fines by police if they don't stop worshiping, but Christian leaders in the area, such as Rev. Akash Nandi, have said that despite threats and beatings, they will not deny their faith.
"Do whatever you like, we are not going to leave Christ at any cost," Nandi recalled the words of the Christians in the village.