Anti-Christian terrorism is once again on the rise in Africa.
Now, Ethiopian Christians are bearing the brunt of brutal attacks.
At least 500 believers have lost their lives in a movement some describe as “relentless.”
Qeerroo, an Islamic extremist group, has been active in Ethiopia for some time, but only over the last several months has the group been emboldened to openly kill Christians.
The word Qeerroo means “bachelors,” which describes this movement of young Muslim men from the ethnic Oromo group.
The group, which began as a male youth movement, has turned militant in recent days, attacking Christian families and individuals across southern Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state.
Even the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa, is not exempt from the violence.
Qeerroo’s members have begun to receive help from other Muslim activists and authorities across Ethiopia as anti-Christian propaganda spreads quickly through Africa.
It’s all part of a targeted effort to abolish the growing Christian presence on the continent.
“Some of the Qeerroo militants held lists of Christians and were helped by local authorities, often run by Muslims…to find individuals, particularly those actively involved in supporting the Church,” reported Barnabas Fund, an international Christian aid agency.
Barnabas Fund adds that the Qeerroo movement has staged anti-Christian attacks in towns across Ethiopia, including Arsi Negele, Ziway, Shashemane, Gedeb Asasa, Kofele, and Kembolcha.
The progression of attacks has been almost orderly with “door-to-door attacks on Christian households.”
“The Qeerroo extremists arrived in cars and, armed with guns, machetes, swords and spears, sought out and slaughtered Christians,” Barnabus Fund reports.
“Children were forced to witness their parents being brutally murdered with machetes.”
The Qeerroo extremists even refused to spare fellow Oromos, beheading one Oromo Christian who refused to deny his faith by tearing off the thread around his neck (frequently worn by Ethiopian Christians as a symbol of baptism).
The man’s widow shared that the Qeerroo attackers told her, “It is only he/she who prostrates with us before Allah for prayer who is considered an Oromo.”
In other words, Qeerroo will only allow Muslims to survive the killing spree.
This is a common theme in Ethiopian Islam, said International Christian Concern, an anti-persecution watchdog group.
“In some parts of Ethiopia, there are primarily Muslim areas where Christianity is seen as a false religion. In these areas, both Orthodox and Protestant Christians are targeted for their faith.”
“Muslims are the leading perpetrators of persecution in the south, especially in areas where they are the majority,” agreed a local pastor.
“[Some] evangelical churches have gone through harassment at the hands of the government.”
Although local Ethiopian Christians have asked the police for protection, their requests have fallen on deaf ears.
“Local witnesses said that police stood by and watched as the murders unfolded,” says Barnabus Fund.
Christian houses, businesses, and churches were vandalized and destroyed as police refused to help—or turned to the side of Qeerroo themselves.
Local witnesses have described the Qeerroo murderers “dancing and singing, carrying the chopped or hacked body parts of those they slaughtered.”
“Another witness reported how the hacked bodies of an elderly Christian couple, who were beaten to death in their home, were dragged through the streets.”
Even unbelievers have been shocked by the grotesque violence incited by Qeerroo and other Islamic militant groups and some civilians have done their best to protect their Christian neighbors.
“Contacts reported that [in some areas] some Christians were saved by the intervention of courageous local Muslims who risked their own lives to protect them,” added Barnabus Fund.
Ethiopian citizens have been deeply shaken by the string of attacks, and Qeerroo has shown no signs of stopping.
“Many still live in fear,” said one Ethiopian believer.
“Christian leaders from all denominations visited the areas [where the attacks happened],” he continued.
“I watched news where priests and pastors physically wept in tears while [they] listened to horrors from the victims’ families.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. May God comfort them and keep them in the palm of His hand.
You can help support persecuted Christians in Ethiopia and around the world here.