MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)-- Christians in Somalia remained on edge Friday, January 26, after a church attack and fresh reports that five people were killed in clashes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
A British Broadcasting Corporation Correspondent saw three bodies with gunshot wounds lying in waste ground and witnesses said they saw two more bodies elsewhere in the city.
Four people were also injured in mortar attacks, the BBC said. Insecurity, including attacks against Christians, increased in and around the capital since the ousting of Islamists last month.
Friday's violence came after human rights investigators confirmed that a Muslim gunman opened fire on Somali house church where Christians were worshipping, seriously injuring the church leader.
The January 2 attack happened in the Southern town of Tayeglow, 320 kilometers (200 miles) from the capital, Mogadishu, said the human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) with website www.persecution.org.
The leader of the house church, ICC identified only as “S” for security reasons, was reportedly hit by gunfire several times and assumed dead for about an hour before he regained consciousness.
"He is currently seeking medical care and his status is critical. The gunman is reportedly still threatening other Christians in the surrounding area," ICC added.
ICC linked the attack to recent clashes when Ethiopian troops assisted the provisional Somali government in pushing back the powerful Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which had taken over and imposed Sharia, or Islamic law, in much of Southern Somalia.
"The desire to oppress Christianity existed long before Ethiopia put pressure on Somalia, and this house church attack is a red flag for an increase in violence and persecution for Christian believers in the Horn of Africa,” ICC President Jeff King said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
"Even though the UIC took a thorough beating from Ethiopian forces, it does not mean they have disappeared or have no lingering influence," King added.
Ethiopia and Somalia have been engaged in two other wars in the past. "For many Somalis, Ethiopia is the enemy and because most Somalis are Muslim, and Ethiopia is considered Christian, Somalis view Christians as enemies also," ICC said.
Although the UIC is not currently in power, Christian observers say the combination of fresh "anti-Ethiopian sentiment" and the last ten years of civil and governmental chaos will likely worsen the situation for Somali Christians. (With reports from Somalia).