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Shooting in Sudan claims 4 Christians

ISTANBUL (BP)–An Egyptian and three Sudanese Christians were killed when their truck came under gunfire after holding an evangelistic meeting in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains region April 27.

Egyptian Daniel Girgis, 37, and local Sudanese Christians Markous Tiya, Rihab Kafi Jadeen and an unidentified young boy were killed when unknown assailants opened fire on their vehicle.

At least five others, two foreigners and three Sudanese, were injured in the attack that began when the truck driver refused to stop at a makeshift roadblock of large rocks.

The vehicle was returning to the town of Torogi, 70 kilometers south of Kadugli, at around 10:30 p.m. carrying 14 foreign Christians as well as several local Sudanese believers.

Organized by the Bahry Evangelical Church in Khartoum North (a city adjacent to Khartoum), the evangelism team had spent the previous week in central Sudan’s Nuba Mountains on one of the church’s twice-a-year outreach projects.

The group had finished showing the “JESUS” film in the village of Gnaya, evangelism coordinator Barnaba Timothous of the Bahry Evangelical Church told Compass Direct News Service. While returning to Torogi, they came under fire, reportedly from two men.

The motive for the attack remains unclear.

“… [T]here are some chiefs there who are Muslims, who are against the church,” Timothous said. “They don’t want the church to be built there. They don’t want Christianity to grow up there.” But a Christian in Khartoum who helped organize the trip maintained that the attack was a simple robbery gone awry. “It might have been something more than that, but you can’t say that unless you have evidence,” the Christian told Compass. “So we assume it was probably robbery.”

Al-Tahir Kodi, the truck’s driver, said that it had been too dark for him to see anyone and he had no way of knowing whether his attackers were Muslim.

“We will not accuse anyone until we know who they were,” he said, talking by telephone from Khartoum. He also said he had heard of an incident five days before the attack in which masked gunmen looted a bus east of Torogi in an area called Tolodi. But two sources in Khartoum independently told Compass that roadside ambushes in the region are rare, causing them to question whether robbery was the real motive.

Timothous said the government in South Kordofan State had formed a committee to investigate the attack.

“We haven’t had any updates,” one Christian source said. “On Sunday four officials from the Nuba Mountains government — two Christians and two Muslims — came to the church in Bahry, expressed their condolences and assured us that they would get the people who did it.”

Though of Egyptian nationality, Girgis was living in Khartoum and attending Bahry Evangelical Church. The three Sudanese killed as well as three others injured were Nuba Mountains residents from Gnaya and Torogi, Bahry church pastor Hafis Fasaha told Compass.

Two foreigners injured in the attack, a man and a woman who requested anonymity, are receiving medical treatment in a private home in Khartoum. The man was shot near the ankle while both of the woman’s legs were pierced by a bullet near the hips.

The foreigners flew back to Khartoum from Kadugli the morning of April 28, where they received post-trauma counseling and medical treatment. Girgis’ body was flown to Cairo later that day.

“Fortunately, the bullet didn’t hit a bone,” a source close to the injured woman said. “She took her first steps yesterday, and they’re keeping the wound clean and bandaged. She’s still in a lot of pain and hoping it will heal up in the next few weeks.”

The source said the foreigners plan to leave Sudan within the next week.

The three injured Sudanese are still receiving medical treatment in a Kadugli hospital, Dr. Dawood Bashir said from the city.

“All the people of the church are paying visits to them and encouraging them,” Bashir said. Nimat Tutu Gasmim’s pelvis had been damaged by a bullet the doctor said, and she had undergone surgery and a blood transfusion.

Bashir was unable to confirm the exact ages of the three dead Sudanese Christians, but identified Safi as being in his late 20s and Jadeen as approximately 19 years of age. He said the dead boy was approximately 12.

Christians in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains region have reported low levels of ongoing harassment from Muslim tribal leaders in recent months. A congregation in the village of Katcha told visitors that the town imam verbally abuses them over the mosque loudspeaker and that the town’s Muslim chief built a house on church property, claiming it belonged to his forefathers.
Compass Direct News, based in Santa Ana, Calif., provides reports on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.

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  • Peter Lamprecht/Compass Direct News Service