Humanitarian groups say Christians and churches are being targeted by aerial bombardment and militias in the Nuba Mountains area of Sudan. Four church buildings have been destroyed in Kadugli since June last year. The latest attack in February killed five members of a single family who belonged to the Episcopal Church of Sudan.Aid workers told Compass Direct that Christians were being targeted to present the continuing conflict in Sudan as a religious war in order to attract support from the Arab world. Sudan split into two nations in July last year, dividing the Arab, Islamic north and the black Christian and animist south. Conflict has continued in disputed areas, including South Kordofan. There is contention between Sudan and South Sudan over the oil-rich region close to the border. Most of the oil is in the south, and some oil-bearing areas are still in dispute. Serious clashes in Heglig prompted some observers to warn of a resumption of war. But reports today (Thursday) say troops have pulled back from confrontation to avoid an escalation of the conflict.There is also a long-running religious and ethnic dimension to the troubles. For years Sudan has been waging a jihad (holy war) against the black Africans of the Nuba Mountains, many of whom are Christians. The region is in the north, but has sympathies with South Sudan. The UN says that up to 300,000 in the conflict zone are in imminent danger of starvation. Observers say Khartoum is engaged in both ethnic and religious cleansing. The Khartoum Government has been using cargo aircraft to drop bombs on targets including churches. An aid worker told Compass Direct that, along with the bombs, 'state-sponsored militias are moving from house to house searching for Christian and African indigenous homes. The Islamic north sees the Nuba Christians as infidels who need to be Islamised through jihad'.NEWS UPDATE:
China: Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been allowed a family visit in prison. Gao, who was jailed after defending cases of religious persecution, disappeared after making allegations of severe torture by the authorities. In 2011 China announced he had been jailed for three years for 'violating the terms of his probation'. Associated Press report Gao was allowed a visit by his brother-in-law on March 24, who said he appeared to be in good health. His wife and two children have fled to the US.
(Sources: Compass Direct, Associated Press, CSW)• Please pray for the people of the Nuba Mountains, especially for God's peace, presence and protection for his people there.
• Pray that the conflict will not escalate again into open warfare between the north and south.
• Pray that a negotiated settlement can be found to settle differences over oil in a way that will benefit the poor of both countries.
• Give thanks that Gao Zhisheng is still alive, and pray that he will stand firm in his faith and remain in God's perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Release International