Abducted Mali nun appeals to Pope Francis for release

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

A Nun who was abducted by Al-Qaeda nearly a year ago has appeared in a propaganda video begging Pope Francis to negotiate her release.
Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, a Franciscan Sister and missionary, was kidnapped on 7 February 2017, in Karangasso, near Koutiala, in southern Mali by the Al-Qaeda-linked group, “Groupe de soutien à l’ Islam et aux musulmans” (Group for Support of Islam and Muslims).

Gloria speaking in French said, “I ask of you to help in my freedom and to do the impossible and release me.”

She went on to congratulate Pope Francis on his “tour of Latin America” expressing a regret that she was in captivity while Christians are celebrating Christmas.

The video said, “Others are parading around the world, calling for support of the weak, calling for peace, and helping the needy…or so they claim.” The narrator added added that Gloria was neglected because she was not “the First World”. The reference to Christmas showed the video was made in late December.

Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb

As if to demonstrate its willingness to negotiate the video showed former hostages it had released in the past.

Gloria who had worked as a missionary for six years before her abduction previously appeared in a propaganda video in July 2017. At that time they accused her of “supporting the crusaders in Mali by preaching Christianity” and presented this as the reason for her abduction, together with six other Western hostages. Three of their number kidnapped in Mali or Burkina Faso have since been released.

Gloria, in the video, also pleaded with her family in Colombia to work towards her release.

Gloria and women she works with

Responding to the request on the propaganda videoGeneral Fernando Murillo, head of the Colombian National Police’s anti-kidnapping division, said, “We’ll have to wait for a statement from that group to know what they will demand.”
He added: “The Pope is aware of what Colombia is doing and to what point we’ve come to obtain her release,”

Gloria’s missionary work in Mali, was caring for children orphaned at birth, and teaching literacy to about 700 Muslim women.

Four deaths after terror attacks on churches in Cameroon

“Boko Haram reportedly mounted a total of 150 attacks in 2017, an increase on the 127 attacks it is said to have mounted the previous year.”


Two churches and four people have been killed in a terror attack by Islamist terrorists, Boko Haram on Monday 15 January.

Cameroon map

The attacks on two churches, the Union des Eglise Evangelique (UEEC) and a Catholic Church took place in a village in the far north region of Cameroon bordering north east Nigeria. A health centre, established by UEEC to care for the community, was also destroyed.

Security sources have also confirmed that the jihadists burnt down over 93 houses, 20 food storehouses, and 11 motorbikes.

aic

Northern Cameroon has suffered from incessant attacks by the Islamic terror group trying to establish an Islamic caliphate from north eastern Nigeria all the way to northern Cameroon, a region of predominantly Christian communities. Villages like Mozogo and Moskota have been attacked a number of times.

A church leader in Moskota, weary of the persistent attacks and expressing the frustration of the community, said people in the region are wary of the attacks.

He said: “It almost means nothing again to us because they come in and loot and make away with our property. During one of such attacks, they made away with several cows belonging to the population. We tried to run away also when they came, and sometimes we just grow weary of running when they attack, but we can’t help it.”

A UNHCR report said Boko Haram insurgency has forced over 170, 000 Cameroonians to flee further north to the Nigerian border while over 73,000 Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks in north eastern Nigeria were fleeing into the same region. A large number of displaced people are Christians.

attacks in Cameroon

Despite Nigeria’s Government’s claim of the defeat of the terrorist group, a BBC research says “Boko Haram reportedly mounted a total of 150 attacks in 2017, an increase on the 127 attacks it is said to have mounted the previous year.”

The attacks have mostly been in Nigeria, but also in Cameroon, Niger and Chad, 23 more attacks than in 2016, the report says.

Written by – Hassan John 

Egypt reeling from attack on mosque in Sinai that killed 305

Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.

Egypt was reeling Sunday from the horrific militant attack on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed 305 people two days earlier — the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in its modern history and a grim milestone in a long-running fight against the insurgency led by an Islamic State affiliate.

sinai-mosque-attack

Survivors and Egypt’s top prosecutor have given accounts of the massacre that unfolded as more than two dozen assailants, carrying a black IS banner, unleashed gunfire and explosions during Friday prayers at the Al-Rawdah Mosque in a sleepy village by the same name near the small town of Bir al-Abd.

The attackers arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his sermon from the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 people inside.

The worshipers screamed and cried out in pain. A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms. Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows. Those who survived spoke of children screaming as they saw parents and siblings mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts. 

When the violence finally stopped, 305 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 wounded.

One of the witnesses, Ebid Salem Mansour, recalled how the attackers shouted Allahu Akbar, or God is great, as they fired on the worshippers.

So composed were the militants that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attackers, some masked, numbered between 25 and 30. Those with bare faces sported heavy beards and long hair, his statement added. Clad in military-style camouflage pants and black T-shirts, one of them carried a black banner with the declaration of the Muslim faith — there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

Despite the banner, IS still has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Survivors of the bloodshed spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where some of the wounded are hospitalized.

“We knew that the mosque was under attack,” said Mansour, a 38-year-old worker in a nearby salt factory who had settled in Bir al-Abd three years ago to escape the bloodshed and fighting elsewhere in northern Sinai. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his legs on Friday.  

“Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you get shot,” he said. “The shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate. Whoever they weren’t sure was dead or still breathing was shot dead.”

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed that the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt would persevere with its war on terrorism. He did not specify what new steps might be taken. On Saturday, he ordered that a mausoleum be built in memory of the victims of Friday’s attack and cancelled a visit to the Gulf Sultanate of Oman that was scheduled for next week.

Egypt’s military and security forces have already been waging a tough and costly campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai, and Egypt has been in a state of emergency since April. Across the country, thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on suspected Islamists as well as against other dissenters and critics, raising concerns about human rights violations.

Seeking to spread the violence, militants over the past year have carried out deadly bombings on churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. Egypt’s IS affiliate has also claimed responsibility for the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people over Sinai. That attack decimated the country’s already ailing tourism industry.

Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s. The death of so many civilians in one day recalls the killing of at least 600 in August 2013, when Egyptian security forces broke up two sit-in protests in Cairo by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president ousted by the military the previous month.

The local IS affiliate has targeted Sufis in the past. Last year, the militants beheaded a leading local Sufi figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, and posted photos of the killing online. In the January edition of an IS online magazine, the Sinai affiliate vowed to target Sufis, accusing them of idolatry and heretical “innovation” in religion and warning that the group will “not permit (their) presence” in Sinai or Egypt.

Millions of Egyptians belong to Sufi orders, which hold sessions of ritual chanting and dancing to draw the faithful closer to God. Sufis also hold shrines containing the tombs of holy men in particular reverence.

Islamic militants stepped up their campaign of violence in northern Sinai after the military ousted the elected but divisive Morsi. Authorities followed up with a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group, jailing thousands.

The result has been a long, grinding conflict centered on el-Arish and nearby villages and towns in north Sinai. The militants have been unable to control territory, but the military and security forces have also been unable to bring security, as the extremists continuously carry out surprise attacks, mostly targeting outposts and convoys.