Militant Islamists Slaughter More than 500 Christians in Ethiopia

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The Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church has called on the government of Ethiopia to act decisively to stop the ongoing slaughter of Christians and the destruction of churches, the September 9 report states.

Since late June, the attacks by Oromo Islamist radicals have entailed the murder of upwards of 500 Christians, including pregnant women, children, and entire families in the Oromia regional state, which includes the nation’s capital of Addis Ababa.

The assailants are members of a Muslim Oromo male youth movement called Qeerroo, meaning “bachelors.”

Throughout the summer, the Qeerroo radicals traveled about in cars, armed with guns, machetes, swords, and spears, seeking out and slaughtering Christians door to door, the Barnabas Fund reported earlier this month in a chilling story ignored by mainstream media.

The targeted killings of Christians followed on the alleged assassination of a popular Oromo singer, Hachallu Hundessa, who was reportedly shot dead on 29 June while driving in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

A field report released in July stated: “These were the most horrific days for Christians in the Oromo region. There are different factions in the region. Some are ethno-nationalist and others are religious. The majority of those who got killed in a brutal way (beheaded and mutilated) are Orthodox Christian of Amhara Ethnicity.”

The report declared that no governmental security forces were present at the scene of the murders and no one stopped or interfered with the killings.

At that time, Archbishop Abune Henok, Primate of the diocese of West Arsi in the Oromo region, stated that Orthodox Christians were purposefully being targeted and killed, noting that more than 239 Orthodox Christians had already been slaughtered.

Attacks on Christians were confirmed in numerous towns and villages including Arsi Negele, Ziway, Shashemane, Gedeb Asasa, Kofele, Dodola, Adaba, Robe, Goba, Bale Agarfa, Chiro, Harar, Dire Dawa, Adama, Dera, Asela and Kembolcha, reaching to the far south-east and east of the country.

Some of the Islamists carried lists of the names of Christians, particularly prominent Church members, and hunted them down, often with the assistance of local officials in the Oromia region, Barnabas reported.

Attackers captured one local Christian and told him to remove the thread around his neck worn by many Ethiopian Christians as a sign of their baptism. When the man refused, his captors cut off his head.

“The attackers said that it is only he/she who prostrates with us before Allah for prayer who is considered an Oromo,” the man’s widow declared.

Local eyewitnesses also recounted that the killers desecrated corpses by “dancing and singing, carrying the chopped or hacked body parts of those they slaughtered.” Raiders also dragged the hacked bodies of an elderly Christian couple through the streets of Gedeb Asasa.

Along with the killings, extremists also burned down numerous Christians’ businesses and houses, vandalizing or destroying others, reportedly causing billions of dollars’ worth of property damage.

The ongoing murders have been compared to the surge of killings that led to the Rwandan genocide. Initially slow to intervene, government security forces have since carried out thousands of arrests, including of local officials complicit in the attacks.