NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–More than 50,000 people were left homeless in the Solomon Islands when a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami in the South Pacific April 2. Among the 28 who died were a bishop and three worshippers killed when the wave hit a church where an ordination service was being held. A New Zealand man drowned when he tried to save his mother.
On April 3, international aid began reaching survivors of the tsunami, which was as high as 16 feet at the town of Gizo, according to the Associated Press. At least 13 villages were destroyed, and government officials warned a humanitarian crisis threatens thousands of people who fled inland without food and basic necessities.
The death toll was expected to rise as communications is restored and reports are received from isolated villages. The Solomons are made up of more than 200 islands on the “Ring of Fire,” a group of volcanos in the South Pacific where earthquakes are common.
TWO-DAY STRIKE BRINGS OUT TROOPS, POLICE — The main trade unions in Zimbabwe called a two-day strike to protest the government of President Robert Mugabe and the economic crisis that has saddled the country with the world’s highest inflation rate and 80 percent unemployment. The country has been on the verge of crisis since police violently broke up a March prayer meeting organized by the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party.
Truckloads of riot police and military helicopters covered Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on the first day of a national strike, according to the Associated Press. Acute shortages of food, hard currency and gasoline are making life difficult for ordinary Zimbabweans, and opposition to the rule of the 83-year-old Mugabe has been intensifying.
The pro-government Herald newspaper accused British diplomat Gillian Dare of being “the purse holder and financier” of what it portrayed as an MDC terror campaign, calling Dare a spy and warning she might be killed during her alleged illicit activities.
Mugabe blames the country’s crisis on sanctions imposed by Britain, the United States and other Western countries. Trade unions say the problems are caused by government corruption and mismanagement.
ETHIOPIAN EVANGELIST BEATEN TO DEATH — An evangelist was beaten to death by militant Muslims as he and two female assistants were witnessing on a street in southeast Ethiopia, March 26. The evangelist, named Tedase, is the second believer in Ethiopia who has been attacked and killed by Wahabbi Muslims in the past six months.
The evangelism team was walking by a Wahabbi mosque in the town of Jimma as a group of men were coming out, according to International Christian Concern, a human rights group based in Washington, D.C. The Muslims chased the three, and the female co-workers escaped, but the men caught Tedase, pulled him into the mosque, and beat him to death.
Wahabbi Islam is an extremist sect that originated in Saudi Arabia and exerts great influence in Muslim dominated areas like Jimma, where local authorities are almost exclusively Muslim, the ICC said. Just six months ago, extremist Muslims burned down several churches and Christian homes, displacing as many as 2,000 Christians.
The ICC encourages concerned individuals to contact the Ethiopian embassy in Washington, D.C., to ask for an investigation of the murder. The embassy’s phone number is (202)364-1200, e-mail [email protected]
NO PLAN TO ATTACK IRAN, OLMERT SAYS — The deployment of new Patriot missile batteries in Israel and the deployment of two U.S. aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf have sparked rumors in the Middle East that the United States and Israel are about to launch a military strike against Iran. But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied any such plans.
Tensions are running high between Iran and the international community over 15 British sailors being held hostage by Tehran and accusations that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear bomb. Iran has refused to cooperate with a United Nations Security Council demand to enrichment of uranium.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mocked Britain for “crying,” instead of apologizing, and said this was the same spirit that would “set the world on fire,” Ahmadinejad said, according to CNSNews.com. Ahmadinejad also boasted about Iran’s ability to recruit “hundreds of suicide bombers a day,” saying suicide attacks are “an invincible weapon.”
Olmert said Syrians sources had been predicting an American attack on Iran timed to coincide with an Israeli attack against Syria and Lebanon. He said the rumors of war were a “baseless and an unfounded rumor” and that Israel wanted to make peace with Syria.
MUSLIMS BEAT, STONE, BURN CHRISTIAN TEACHER — A Christian teacher at a secondary school in the northern Nigeria town of Gandu was murdered March 21 by Muslim students and outside extremists after one of her pupils accused her of desecrating a Quran, the Muslim holy book.
Christianah Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin had collected papers, books and bags to prevent cheating on a classroom examination, according to the Compass Direct news service. “Soon after the bags collected by Oluwasesin were dropped in front of the class, one of the girls in the class began to cry,” said Aluke Musa Yila, a fellow teacher at the school. “She told her colleagues that she had a copy of the Quran in her bag, that Oluwasesin touched the bag, and that by doing so she had desecrated the Quran, since she was a Christian.” The mob beat, stoned, and clubbed Oluwasesin to death, then burned her corpse.