By BosNewsLife Africa Service
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)– Islamic militants In Somalia have shot and killed a woman who led an underground Christian movement as part of a crackdown on Christians in the war-torn nation, Christians said Thursday October 1.
An influential leader of the Islamic Al-Shabab group, identified only as Sheikh Arbow from Middle Juba region, allegedly shot 46-year-old Mariam Muhina Hussein Monday, September 28, in Marerey village after discovering she had six Bibles. There was no immediate known statement of resonsibility from the group.
Marerey is eight kilometers (five miles) from Jilib, part of the neighboring Middle Juba region.
Well-informed Christian news agency Compass Direct News quoted local sources as saying that Arbow sent his wife to the house of Hussein, a Somali Bantu, Sunday, September 27, to confirm the presence of the Bibles.
“Pretending to be interested in Christianity, the militia leader’s wife confirmed the existence of the Bibles. The next day, Arbow arrived at Hussein’s house and, in a friendly manner, claimed that he wanted to check something in the Bible,” the news agency quoted sources as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Knowing only that Arbow was a fellow ethnic Somali Bantu and having met his wife the previous day, Hussein innocently gave one to him,” sources reportedly said.
Arbow then told her that he was looking for “Christians who have defiled the Islamic religion,” Compass Direct News quoted a source as saying. He reportedly ordered her to get the other Bibles. Upon receiving the Bibles, locals said, Arbow fired three bullets at Hussein, who died instantly.
Al-Shabab, which has campaigned to establish Sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Somalia and to topple the government, has killed at least over a dozen Christians, advocacy groups say.
Christians and especially ex-Muslims who turned to Christianity are viewed as enemies, according to rights investigators.
The killing of the woman came just shortly after 69-year-old Omar Khalafe was killed by al-Shabab fighters September 15, for carrying Bibles near the port city of Merca, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the capital Mogadishu, Christians said.
Shalafe apparently carried 25 Somali Bibles he hoped to deliver to an underground congregation.
Last month, the group killed 41-year-old Ahmed Matan in the Bulahawa area, near the Somali border with Kenya, for converting from Islam to Christianity, several Christian sources told BosNewsLife.
The group has also carried out several whippings, amputations and executions to enforce its own strict interpretation of Islam.
In July al-Shabab militants beheaded four Christian aid workers for refusing to renounce their faith in Christ.
They have also targetted peacekeepers and alleged spies from foreign intelligence services. On Monday, September 28, the group executed two Somali men in the country’s capital, accusing them of being spies for foreign organizations.
A firing squad of 10 al-Shabab men killed the two on Monday in Mogadishu’s main livestock market, The Associated Press (AP) news agency quoted witness Said Yusuf as saying.
In a statement, Al-Shabab’s Mogadishu chief Ali Mohamed Hussein said the group carried out the executions after determining the men worked for the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern Somalia and its members vow allegiance to al-Qaida.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
Observers say that years of fighting between rival warlords and an inability to deal with famine and disease in Somalia have led to the deaths of up to one million people.