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Terror group releases video of kidnapped missionary

(WNS)–Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video confirming a Swiss missionary the group kidnapped a year ago is still alive. The video, which is a little over two minutes long, shows Beatrice Stockly clad in a black veil and speaking in a barely audible voice. Stockly said the militants recorded the video Dec. 31, greeted her family, and thanked the Swiss government for its efforts in securing her release. “I’m in good health,” she said.

Nigerian army finds another kidnapped Chibok schoolgirl

(WNS)–Nigerian soldiers on Jan. 5 found another Chibok schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, Nigeria’s military and president confirmed. Gen. Sani Usman, the army’s spokesman, identified the girl as Rakiya Abubakar and said she had a 6-month-old baby. Usman said the soldiers found her while interrogating a group of detained Boko Haram suspects. Following a medical checkup, Officials took her to the Borno state government where two other Chibok girls confirmed her identity. “Hope springs eternal from the hearts of men,” Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima said. “We hope and pray that in the coming days and weeks, we will get back a substantial number of our daughters.”

Chinese Catholics caught in Vatican-Beijing tug-of-war

(WNS)–The warming relations between the Holy See and Beijing cooled late last month after a top Chinese leader stressed the need for the Catholic Church in China to promote socialism and remain independent from outside forces. The latest tensions come as the Vatican works with Beijing to reach an agreement on the issue of confirming bishops, part of an effort to reestablish relations between the two parties. Beijing broke ties with the Vatican in 1949, forcing Catholics to either join the government-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) or face imprisonment. Over time, Chinese Catholics formed an underground church faithful to the pope. The total Chinese Catholic population numbers about 12 million.

Turkey detains American pastor over terrorism claims

(WNS)–Since an attempted coup in July, Turkey’s authoritarian president has cracked down on dissent and now Christians are caught in the backlash, facing denied visas, deportations, and accusations of terrorism. The Turkish government has fired and arrested thousands of persons it claims are connected to the Fethullah Gulen Islamic movement blamed for this year’s failed plot to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But Erdogan’s regime is also using state of emergency powers against Kurds, Alevis, socialists, and Protestant Christians, Al-Monitor reported. And in December, Turkish authorities charged Pastor Andrew Brunson with terrorist ties. Brunson, a U.S. citizen, worked in Izmir as a church pastor for 23 years.

Blast at Australian Christian group’s building raises concern

(WNS)–The director of an Australian Christian advocacy group said many unanswered questions remained after a van exploded outside the group’s headquarters on Dec. 21. Police said they spoke with the driver and members of his family and concluded the explosion had no political or religious motivation.The Australian Capital Territory Policing confirmed a 35-year-old Australian man drove the van that exploded next to the headquarters of Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in Canberra. Police said in a statement the driver “appeared to have ignited gas cylinders within the vehicle.” The driver is in stable condition at a hospital in Sydney. ACL director Lyle Shelton confirmed no member of his staff was hurt.Shelton initially described the explosion as an attack on ACL, which advocates for maintaining the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and against the government-backed “Safe Schools” program that encourages the promotion of gender fluidity in schools. He was selected in December as WORLD magazine’s Daniel of the Year.



Nigeria says it has rescued hundreds of Boko Haram captives

(WNS)–The Nigerian army on Dec. 14 said it rescued more than 600 women and children in a two-week crackdown on Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria. The rescue operation has not been verified. Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor, commander of the operation, said in a news conference the troops rescued 69 men, 180 women, 227 boys, and, 129 girls between Dec. 7 and 14 from Sambisa forest. The forest, in Nigeria’s Borno state, is known widely as Boko Haram’s enclave and the location of many of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014. The army has not said whether any Chibok girls were among the rescued.

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