By BosNewsLife Africa Service
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)-- Christians in Somalia were facing another potential day of bloodshed Monday, August 24, amid fresh reports that Muslim militants are hunting down converts to Christianity, killing at least one man in recent days for abandoning Islam.
Fighters of the main al-Shabaab insurgent group shot and killed 41-year-old Ahmed Matan last week, August 18, in the Bulahawa area, near the Somali border with Kenya, Christians said.
Matan, a former Muslim, had been a member of a secret underground church since 2001, said Abdikadir Abdi Ismael, an ex-leader of a secret Christian fellowship in Somalia in published comments.
The reported attack came shortly after rights activists said al-Shabab militants beheaded four Christian aid workers for refusing to renounce their faith in Christ.
Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi and Maaddey Diil after kidnapping them on July 27 in the coastal town of Merca, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the capital Mogadishu, several Christian advocacy groups said.
International Christian Concern said that on August 4, an unidentified junior al-Shabab militant notified families of the victims that the four Christians had been beheaded for apostasy. The four Christians had reportedly been working for a local non-governmental organization that helps orphans in southern Somalia.
Al-Shabab has campaigned to establish Sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Somalia and to topple the government. Besides Christians, the group is also attacking peacekeepers, BosNewsLife monitored Tuesday, August 25.
Since Friday, August 25, an insurgent attack on a peacekeeping base in Mogadishu set off gun battles that reportedly killed at least 24 people.
Al-Shabab said it had attacked the a base of the African Union (AU) peacekeepers because they had rolled into rebel-controlled areas early Friday. The AU said none of its forces were killed or wounded.
For nearly two years, al-Shabab spearheaded efforts to expel Ethiopian troops from Somalia.
Since Ethiopia's withdrawal in January, al-Shabab began cooperating with another Islamist group called Hisbul Islam to topple the United Nations-backed, but weak transitional federal government, and to force more than 5,000 AU peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi to abandon their mission.
Hundreds of foreign extremists are also believed to be taking part in the fighting. the Voice of America (VOA) network reported.