Soldier Shoots Civilian Christian in Sudan following Bombing of Church Building

Most of wounded man's church fled to Nuba Mountain caves.

Most of the shooting victim’s church had fled to mountain caves after the Sudanese military destroyed their building. (Morning Star News via Diocese of El Obeid)

Most of the shooting victim’s church had fled to mountain caves after the Sudanese military destroyed their building. (Morning Star News via Diocese of El Obeid)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – A Sudanese government soldier on Saturday (July 12) shot a Christian near his farm in South Kordofan state, seriously wounding him, church sources said.

Akhnouk Jamal, 27, a member of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), sustained wounds on his back and upper part of his stomach when a soldier opened fire on him as he picked wild fruit near his land in Losher, west of Al Atmor, a church source told Morning Star News.

“He was rushed to a health center, where he is now under treatment,” the source said. “But thank God he is recovering from his wounds.”

The Christian has no connections to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels fighting government forces in the area east of the state capital of Kadugli, sources said. Government forces reportedly took control of the rebel stronghold of Al Atmor, in Um Dorain County, on June 7, though fighting continued throughout the month.

Jamal remained in the area even as most of the congregation fled to mountain caves after Sudanese Armed Forces supported by the Sudanese Air Force destroyed the ECS church building in Al Atmor in a bombing on July 6, sources said.

Jamal, single, is an ethnic Nuba and member of Al Atmor ECS church along with his mother. The attack destroyed the church building along with its chairs, pulpit and Bibles and prayer books, a source who requested anonymity said. The 180-member congregation has deserted the area, the source said.

“Christians live in great fear, but God is there,” said one area Christian.

The Rev. Yousif Ismail was nearly killed in a bombing when he returned from his mountain hiding place to gather items from his ECS church in Karkaria Kain village, outside Al Atmor, on July 2, according to a local source. His church also had fled to the mountain caves when government forces began shelling the village after taking Al Atmor.

Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.

Thousands of civilians have taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.

The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.

Sudan’s bombing of civilian targets in the country’s Nuba Mountains May and June killed at least 10 Christians, sources told Morning Star News. Four children and an elderly woman were among the victims of bombings in South Kordofan state as part of the regime’s plan to rid the country of Christians, mostly black ethnic Nuba, in an effort to render it solely Arabic and Islamic, Sudanese Christians say.

Church leaders and aid workers told Morning Star News that Sudan’s bombings of civilian areas in its war with the SPLA-N killed 14-year-old Abdo al Nour and Abdel Rahman Hassan, 15, in the village of Um Serdiba on June 13. In the same area on May 20, according to the sources who requested anonymity, a Sudanese Air Force bombing killed 30-year-old Kimmia Calals of the Sudanese Church of Christ, leaving her nursing child motherless.

On June 17 in Tabalo village, a Sudanese bomb from a Russian-made Antonov plane killed Yasin Salah, 16, and another minor, Ado al Sawaq, the sources said. On June 11 in the same village in Um Dorain County, 80-year-old Amira Ballula was killed when a plane dropped a bomb on her house in the village of Tabalo, they said.

The bombing of civilian targets in South Kordofan state in May targeted the region’s only hospital and damaged an orphanage school and a relief agency, sources said. In Um Serdiba on May 18, Sife El Deen Ibrahim, 40, was killed immediately when a bomb from an Antonov jet hit the Christian’s house, an area church member requesting anonymity told Morning Star News.

Ibrahim left a widow and four children, ages 12, 15, 17 and 20, who were dependent on him for their livelihood, she said.

In Kauda, Antonov planes dropped bombs on the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO), the only humanitarian organization in South Kordofan, in late May, sources said. On May 29, bombing destroyed an orphanage school in Kauda, they said.

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