Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Killing Christians, Burning Church and Homes in Mozambique
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The Islamic State is claiming responsibility for killing ten Christians and burning 200 homes in Northern Mozambique over the course of two weeks, a new report revealed.
According to the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM), Islamic militants struck the village of Ntotoe in the Mocimboa da Praia district on Jan. 3, killing three residents, and burning down more than 60 houses and a church.
Days later, the group attacked the village of Chimbanga in the Mocimboa da Praia district, killing three civilians and burning over 70 homes.
Gunmen also opened fire with machine guns on another village in the same district on Jan. 7. The district's residents were unharmed, but Islamic extremists burned 40 homes.
The watchdog group reports the killings were published in an issue of the Islamic State's (ISIS) weekly, Al-Naba, depicting images of corpses and properties in flames.
"All the operations were conducted as part of the 'And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them' campaign, launched on Jan. 4 in an audio message by the group's spokesperson, Abu Hudhayfah Al-Ansar," the JTTM's report said.
The U.S. State Department's 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom describes that violent attacks began in Cabo Delgado Province in 2017.
"From October 2017 to December 2022, the attacks displaced more than one million residents and killed nearly 2,000 civilians of all faiths. ISIS-M also attacked villages in two northern districts of Nampula Province," the report explained.
In September 2022, an elderly Catholic nun was shot and killed by Islamic insurgents during an attack on the Chipene mission in the Diocese of Nacala in Mozambique.
As CBN News reported, the gunmen ransacked and burned down the mission church but also the school, the health center, the residences of the priests and the nuns, the library, the boys' and girls' boarding houses, and the vehicles belonging to the mission.
The group said they purposely targeted Christians and Christian villages.
According to the Inter Press Service, the attacks by the Islamic State have "significantly" decreased.
"There are encouraging indications that the Islamic State (IS)-driven insurgency has significantly decreased thanks to the deployment of the Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM), Southern African Development Community (SAMIM) forces, and a contingent of Rwandan troops (RSF)," reads the report.
Leleti Maluleki, a researcher at Good Governance Africa, told the outlet that this doesn't mean the attacks are over.
"With regards to the current state of the conflict, people are slowly moving back or returning to their villages and communities. It's a sign of progress being made by the troops, and we hope it's a sign of peace," Maluleki said.
"That's a good thing as well, but it does not mean that the insurgency is over. We need to remember that there were stories of insurgents infiltrating the communities, so they are still among the people; they might have radicalized certain individuals, and they might have recruited some citizens. But we are seeing fewer and fewer attacks on a daily basis," she continued.
The Open Doors' 2024 World Watch List ranks Mozambique as the 39th worst country to be a Christian. The annual reports list the top 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.
"Christians can become easy targets for those that are looking to create instability within those environments," Open Doors U.S. CEO Ryan Brown told CBN News. "They can do so with impunity, that they've received no consequence for those actions. Because again, Christians are not often protected or recognized by the governments in those areas."
Missionary Heidi Baker lives and ministers in Cabo Del Gado province and told CBN News that many are turning to Jesus in the midst of persecution.
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