Two Christians killed in church fire in Uganda

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NAIROBI, KenyaMay 10, 2022 (Morning Star News) — Two Christians died when Muslim extremists torched a church in southern Uganda on Thursday May 5, sources said.

Most of the Christians who were holding an all-night prayer vigil had left when the structure of the Holy Healing Ministry International Church in the Mpumudde district of Jinja city was set on fire at around 4 a.m., the pastor said. George Kato Church.

“The fire weakened the structure of the church and forced it to collapse,” Pastor Kato told Morning Star News. “I managed to escape with the few other remaining members, but two elderly members were trapped inside and the fire burned them beyond recognition.”

As he exited the church building, Pastor Kato said, he found jerry cans of gasoline near the door.

“I set off an alarm while fleeing,” he said. “I saw three Muslims in long Islamic clothes taking off. I couldn’t identify them.

Extremist Muslims in the area accusing Christians of being too loud in their worship services and prayer meetings had repeatedly told them to remove the church building, he said.

As the building burned, Pastor Kato called the police who arrived quickly, but the wooden structure was already engulfed in flames.

One of the two church members who died has been identified as 70-year-old Jonathan Kalyecheru. The identity of the second victim was unclear. The bodies were taken to the Jinja Regional Referral Hospital Mortuary while the police investigate.

Jinja is in Jinja district on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, about 80 kilometers (49 miles) from Kampala, the capital.

Bishop attacked

Near the town of Mbale in eastern Uganda, extremist Muslims intercepted a church leader on April 28 and cut him with knives after he left an evangelistic event in the middle of air where he had debated with Muslims, sources said.

Bishop Amon Sadiiki was receiving treatment for head, stomach and leg injuries. He was ambushed after four days of debates with Muslims in Mbale.

“On the fourth day of the debate, 11 Muslims converted to Christianity,” a local contact said, adding that when the Bishop left Mbale around 8 p.m., many Muslims were shouting at him.

Believing that Sadiiki might not be safe to travel alone, event organizers arranged for two Christians on motorbikes, Peter Wabukoma and Moses Werikhe, to accompany him. On the Mugiti-Kabwangasi road, they saw two motorcycles followed by three motorcyclists, who then passed brandishing knives and shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar [God is greater]“, said the source.

The men jumped off their motorbikes, stopped them and immediately began beating and cutting Sadiiki before he could be defended, one of the escorts said.

“We sounded an alarm crying out for help to the Bishop who needed to be rescued as he was on the verge of death which caught the attention of some nearby students from Mugiti High School, a school founded by Christians, and the school management managed to chase the assailants away, but the bishop was seriously injured,” Wabukoma said. “Bishop’s stomach, head and legs were cut with sharp knives and he lost a lot of blood.”

Sources said Sadiiki was on a Muslim ‘wanted list’ because he left Islam to put his faith in Christ, built a church in the middle of a predominantly Muslim village and performed services of healing that have led many Muslims to Christ. He was also targeted, residents said, because he held an evangelistic event in Mbale, considered a Muslim stronghold, during the Islamic month of Ramadan when many Muslims embraced Christianity.

Sadiiki received first aid from the school nurse, who dressed his wounds, while waiting for a rescue team called from Mbale. The team arrived around 10:45 p.m. and took Sadiiki to a private clinic in Mbale.

“Bishop’s condition is stable, but he will need a further two weeks in hospital as he suffered a severe cut to his head,” the contact said.

Church leaders planned to file a police report when the bishop was discharged from the hospital.

On May 3, Muslim extremists attacked her son, Frank Amon Sadiiki, 21, as he was returning home from delivering food to his father in hospital, the local contact said.

“As he was returning on his motorbike, two people stopped him around 8 p.m. and then hit him with an object on his legs,” the source said. “Immediately a vehicle appeared with bright lights and the assailants fled.”

Frank Sadiiki was rushed to a nearby clinic for treatment for cuts to his legs.

The bishop told Morning Star News that he and his family were not safe and needed prayer.

These attacks are the latest of many persecutions of Christians in Uganda documented by Morning Star News.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12% of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in the eastern regions of the country.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo credit: Max Kukurudziak/Unsplash

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