Photo captions: 1) The main entrance to Tahanint radio station in Timbuktu, Mali. (World Watch Monito)/r 2) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
Three Killed Outside Christian Radio Station in West Africa’s Mali
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MALI (ANS-Dec 19. 2015) — Three people were killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire outside a Christian radio station in Mali on Dec. 17.
Mali is in West Africa, located southwest of Algeria.
According to a story by World Watch Monitor (WWM), two were men. The third victim’s gender is not yet clear, with some reports suggesting a male victim and others a young woman.
The motive for the attack on the Tahanint radio station in Timbuktu is unknown, but witnesses described the gunman as a turbaned Tuareg. One local source said gunfire could still be heard after the event.
Tahanint, which WWM said means “mercy” in the local dialect, had just finished broadcasting for the day, when the trio were shot outside the building. The radio station is closely linked with a local Baptist Church and evangelical mission.
Dr. Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, President of the Baptist Church in Mali, told WWM that Christians were “shocked to see what happened.”
“We are trying to find out what happened, but for now we don’t have any explanation,” he said. “It’s a Christian radio station that was broadcasting messages of peace lately. One of the young men who was shot last night … had just finished broadcasting and his last words were about peace.”
Yattara added that “insecurity is everywhere in Mali. The situation is very frail, but we didn’t see a particular threat to the community.”
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, WWM said there has been an upsurge in jihadist attacks in Mali, including the recent incident at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Nov. 20, when 22 people were killed.
Christians, a minority in Mali, are reported by WWM to have paid a heavy price since jihadists took over northern Mali in 2012.
For most of the year, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.
Thousands, including many Christians, fled and found refuge in the south, or in neighboring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso.
The government of Mali and the predominantly Tuareg rebel groups have now signed a peace agreement, but with limited impact. WWM said jihadist groups have regained ground and intensified attacks.
WWM reported earlier this year that 14 mausoleums in Timbuktu had been rebuilt, three years after they were destroyed by Islamists, but that churches had yet to be rebuilt.
The loss sustained by Christians across northern Mali amounted to hundreds of millions of US dollars.
“The churches are in ruins: in Gao, in Niafounké, in Hombori and other towns occupied by jihadists,” Yattara told WWM in Sept. 2014.
He added, “We had this feeling that jihadists wanted to wipe out any trace of Christianity in the north of Mali. But … the church is still there and most of the believers have returned, albeit in very difficult conditions, without external assistance or the financial resources needed in such circumstances. And despite such adversity we are determined to resume our ministries because … this northern Mali is ours. We have the right to freely exercise our faith and we are firmly committed to make this happen.”
In 2013, Mali was ranked No. 7 on World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is most severe. The list is published annually by Open Doors International, a charity supporting Christians worldwide who live under pressure because of their faith.
For more information visit www.worldwatchmonitor.org
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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