Ethiopian Christian Ordered at Gunpoint to Murder Two Pastors or Have His Children Killed

Ethiopian Christian Ordered at Gunpoint to Murder Two Pastors or Have His Children Killed

By Stoyan Zaimov

An Ethiopian Christian man revealed that he was taken and ordered at gunpoint by masked assailants to murder two of his friends, Christian pastors, or else his three children will be killed.

"I was commanded to follow the instruction of four covered, armed, persons who spoke in the Oromo language. I was also slapped two times and asked to kneel down. They put their pistol in my mouth and gave me instructions to kill pastors Girma Hippo and Endezina," Aman Kuni told the International Christian Concern, a persecution watchdog group.

Kuni was reportedly told by the assailants to carry out the murders in three months time, after which he was told he would be rewarded with an easier life abroad — but if he refused, he was told his three children would be murdered.

The incident occurred only days after the Christian was released from a prison in Asella. ICC said that the man was initially arrested by authorities for participating in a church service in April which saw the baptism of 40 new Christians at the Meseret-Kiristos Church.

"We were gathered for sharing and encouraging each other with the Word of God," Kuni said. "After we finished the service, police imprisoned us. Some of our friends ran away when they saw the way we were harshly handled," he added.

A number of other worshipers were also arrested at the scene, as well as three church leaders. They were charged with "holding illegal meetings in secret locations," though the Kuni said that "our main crime was preaching the Good News."

After a court found no evidence against them, Kuni and the other detainees were released on May 12 on $250 bail each.

Ethiopia has a religiously diverse society, with Christians from various denominations making up the majority of the population, according to the World Factbook. The government seeks to clamp down on what it deems unauthorized worship meetings, however.

ICC's Ethiopia staffer, who wasn't named, said: "If the case is not approved with evidence and dropped by the court, it seems those officials were using the government institutions to attack Christianity."

Back in April, tens of thousands of Ethiopian marched in the capital of Addis Ababada in solidarity with the 28 murdered Ethiopian Christians who were executed in a video released by terror group ISIS.

The murdered Ethiopians were believed to have been migrants traveling across the Sahara aiming to reach Europe via Libya, where ISIS has been active in the past few months.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the mass rally at the time: "This week's cruel act, which was committed against our citizens in Libya, not only gives a glimpse into terrorism, but also shows the Satanic acts and objectives of those who committed the act."