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Sudan: 20,000 Christians march in sackcloth, ashes after government ignores savage attacks

Catholic World News - September 22, 2009

A bishop in southern Sudan has begged the international community to intervene after the government failed to stop attacks on Christians in the region by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“Nobody is coming to our aid,” said Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio after a gang of LRA soldiers stormed a parish, desecrated the Host, kidnapped 17 young people, and mutilated one. “We are asking those who are responsible in the international community to do something about it.” The LRA, which has wreaked havoc in Uganda and neighboring countries since its foundation in 1987, also killed six people by nailing them to wood.

Government inaction prompted 20,000 area Christians to walk barefoot for two miles in sackcloth and ashes.

Two million lost their lives in the long Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) between the Muslim north and the largely animist and Christian south. The civil war ended when President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, indicted earlier this year by the International Criminal Court, granted the south limited autonomy. Since 2005, the nation’s five million Catholics have fallen under two sets of religion laws. In the north, all schools-- even Christian schools-- must offer instruction in Islam, and converts from Islam to Christianity face not only criminal charges but also death at the hands of their families. In the south, Christians enjoy religious freedom.

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