Christians Under Fire in Somalia
AFP, a French news agency, reported on Sunday that a suicide bomb attack in a restaurant in the central Somali town of Beledweyne killed at least 15 and injured an unknown number of people on Saturday, according to Open Doors USA. The attack targeted the restaurant that is popular with African Union soldiers from Ethiopia and Djibouti and Somali government soldiers. Beledweyne is a strategic town 185 miles north of the capital of Mogadishu and close to the Ethiopian border. Al Shabab, the al Qaeda-linked extremist group responsible for the four-day siege on the Westgate mall in Nairobi in September, claimed responsibility for the attack. In the Somali Federation, Christians remain marginalized, threatened and criminalized. Ranked No. 5 on Open Doors' 2013 World Watch List, it ranks among the countries where Christians face extreme persecution -- nearly always meaning physical violence. In every sphere of life -- private, family, community and national -- discovery of being a Christian means danger; often execution on the spot. An Open Doors field staff member gives testimony of Somali believers: "Amid the hardest times of persecution and executions of Christians, they have remained steadfast, holding on to their Christian faith secretly." Open Doors also lists several prayer requests: "Al Shabab is stepping up its offensive in many parts of East Africa. Pray that the governments in these regions will be able to drive out Al Shabab. Pray for God’s protection for Christians. Thank the Lord for the testimony that despite the dangers they face, Christians in Somalia have been given the grace of perseverance by God. Pray that He will continue to do so and to extend His Kingdom in Somalia."