By BosNewsLife Africa Service
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)-- Christians in Somalia feared more violence Monday, April 29, after Islamic militants reportedly killed the widow of a Christian who was slain for his faith in December, leaving the couple’s five children orphaned.
Fighters of the Islamic al-Shabab group shot 42-year-old Fartun Omar to death on April 13 in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the central Somalian city of Beledweyne, local Radio Shebelle reported. The militants had been searching for her for several months, as they knew that she was a secret Christian, the network said.
Due to the threat of persecution, Omar on April 10 decided to leave Beledweyne by bus with another neighbor to seek refuge with relatives, Christian news agency Morning Star News reported.
On reaching Buulobarde, which is controlled by al-Shabab, militants at a roadblock allegedly ordered passengers to disembark and questioned them one by one, locals said.
"Unfortunately, she was not cleared by the al-Shabab,” explained a neighbor who accompanied her. “I only heard one of them saying, ‘This is the woman whose husband was killed last year. Do not let her in.’"
CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND
The other passengers were allowed to board again, and the bus left, with Omar’s neighbor suddenly responsible for caring for her children. The oldest is a 15-year-old girl.
“On April 13, I received news from Beledweyne that a woman in Buulobarde had been killed by the Al-Shabab,” the neighbor said. “Soon I found out that it was Fartun Omar.”
Locals said Omar was found dead on the outskirts of Buulobarde with bullet wounds to her right side. “The children are in safe hands, and I am trying to look for some of the relatives of Omar,” the neighbor was quoted as saying. “The only problem that I am experiencing at the moment is that the small children are crying for their mother.”
It comes amid concerns about the whereabouts of another Christian convert who was captured and reportedly tortured by Islamic militants in Somalia remained missing amid fears he may have died.
Four fighters of al-Shabab abducted Hassan Gulled, 25, on March 23, after monitoring him for several weeks, local Christians said. He was thought to be held at an al-Shabab base in Bulo Marer, Somalia.
Christian rights activists said Gulled traveled to Somalia from neighboring Kenya on February 27 to visit family, BosNewsLife reported earlier.
Gulled is one of many Somali refugees risking traveling to Somalia since a new government was established following victories over al-Shabab, by African Union peacekeepers.
Despite the reported attacks there may be at least 1,000 devoted Christians in the country, according to well-informed Christian groups, but experts say an exact figure is difficult to get as many pretend to be Muslims for fear of retribution.
Al-Shabab says it fights for a state based on harsh Sharia, or Islamic law, and believes Somalis are born Muslims by default. Somalis found practicing another religion, are considered guilty of apostasy, which carries the death penalty under al-Shabab's strict interpretation of Islamic law.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).
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