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IVORY COAST & YEMEN: TERROR ESCALATES
By Elizabeth Kendal
IVORY COAST: AL-QAEDA STRIKES CHRISTIAN WEST AFRICA
|click on map to enlarge|
In Grand Bassam the terrorists roamed the beach shooting beach-goers and opened fire on the guests at the L'Etoile du Sud hotel to shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' (Allah is Greater). Nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral opened its doors to offer shelter -- first to dozens of people fleeing from the beach, then to some 50 hostages liberated by police from the L'Etoile du Sud. According to local media, Ivorian security forces were on high alert, having been advised 24 hours earlier that a terrorist attack was imminent. Southern Ivory Coast is predominantly Christian. If AQIM is looking for soft targets full of 'infidels' (local and foreign), the many churches, international schools, business centres and tourist resorts of southern Ivory Coast would prove hard to resist. Pray for security in Ivory Coast.
YEMEN: ISLAMIC STATE KILLS NUNS, KIDNAPS PRIEST
Yemen was two states before 1990: North Yemen (facing the Red Sea) and South Yemen (facing the Gulf of Aden). North Yemen was 60 percent Shia and existed as a Shia Imamate for 1000 years until 1962 when nominal Shia, Arab socialist Ali Abdullah Saleh seized power in a military coup. South Yemen, however, was 99 percent Sunni with a significant Marxist element. When the two states united in May 1990, cracks immediately appeared. Not only were the Shi'ites now a 30 percent minority, but with power based in Sanaa in the north, the southerners, feeling marginalised, started agitating for secession. When civil war erupted in 1994, President Saleh employed jihadists -- veterans of the Afghan War -- to fight his enemies. When a Shi'ite rebellion erupted in 2004, it quickly developed into a regional sectarian proxy war with Iran backing the Shi'ites and the Arabs (led by Saudi Arabia) backing the Sunnis. [For background see Religious Liberty Monitoring, label: Yemen] Though President Saleh was removed in the 'Arab Spring', no political solution has been found to Yemen's problems. The state remains blighted by sectarian war, with foreign powers backing opposing sides while al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State (IS) compete for territory and recruits. It is doubtful the remnant (mostly expatriate) Church will survive.
|Missionaries of Charity home, Aden|
Fr Tom Uzhunnalil (inset)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL
* intervene to deliver the foreign missionaries recently taken into captivity: Dr Ken Elliot and Beatrice Stockly (both captives of AQIM in northern Mali) and Fr Tom Uzhunnalil (a captive of IS in Yemen); may the captives be safe and filled with the peace of God.
'Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings' (Psalm 17:8 ESV). 'And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:7 ESV).
* grant divine wisdom and insight to local civic and church leaders in troubled and insecure regions, thinking particularly of war-ravaged Yemen and vulnerable Ivory Coast. May the local people be alert (Acts 23:12-24); may the Church be sensitive to the Spirit's leading (Acts 16:6-10) and may the schemes of the wicked come to nothing (Psalm 146).
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN WHOLE ARTICLE
TERROR ESCALATES IN IVORY COAST & YEMEN
On Sunday 13 March, jihadists from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's al-Murabitoon struck the south-east coast of Ivory Coast. They shot beach-goers and patrons at the L'Etoile du Sud hotel -- 16 died. Some 100 terrified civilians found sanctuary in the nearby Cathedral as Ivory Coast security forces battled the militants. Southern Ivory Coast is predominantly Christian. Pray for Ivory Coast and its security. In Yemen on 4 March, jihadists from Islamic State massacred 12 staff and residents as well as four foreign nuns at a Missionaries of Charity retirement home in Aden. They also kidnapped Father Tom Uzhunnalil (56), an Indian Salesian priest; his whereabouts remain unknown. Meanwhile, Yemen is wracked by warring internal Islamic factions. Please pray for Yemen and for its remnant, servant Church.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of http://www.turnbackthebattle.com/thebook.html (Deror Books, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.
Elizabeth Kendal’s new book, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, presently being published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA), will be available shortly.