09/02/2014, 00.00
IRAQ
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Christian man tortured and killed by Islamic State militants for refusing to convert to Islam

For more than three weeks, Salem Matti Kourk was holed up in his home to avoid capture by Islamists. Once he ran out of food, he went out to find some but was stopped and beaten to death, his body dumped on a street. For Chaldean Patriarchate, he is "another martyr, a victim of extremist folly." In the capital, a car bomb kills a young Syrian Catholic student.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Islamic State fighters spills more Christian blood in Iraq as they continue to persecute unarmed civilians, including children.

Sources within the Chaldean Patriarchate told AsiaNews that yesterday Sunni fundamentalists tortured and killed a Christian man in Bartala, a small predominantly Syriac town in the Niniveh Plains that has been occupied by Jihadists for the past few weeks. He was part of a small group who did not flee when the place was overrun.

According to reports from a witness, the martyr - as the Patriarchate calls him - was a man of 43, Salem Matti Kourki. He died yesterday after being brutally beaten and tortured by terrorists for refusing to convert to Islam.

One of Salem's relatives said that the victim could not flee with his family when Islamists entered the town of Bartala on 8 August because he suffered from heart disease.

He was holed up in his home for more than three weeks, eating and drinking what had been stockpiled in the house.

Yesterday, after he ran out of food and water, he went out to find some food. However, he was stopped at an IS checkpoint in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary, in the city centre, and was immediately arrested. IS fighters tried to convert him by force to Islam but he refused outright.

The fundamentalists beat and tortured him causing his death, then dumped his body in the street, which was found a few hours later by local residents, who took him and buried him.

A funeral service will be held on Friday at the Oum El Nour Syriac Orthodox Church in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, to honour the memory of the martyr Salem.

Meanwhile, more Christians are dying in Iraq's capital, Baghdad.

According to reports from Mgr Pius Qasha Khoury, from the Syrian Catholic Church of Mansour/Baghdad, one of his parishioners was killed by a car bomb, which exploded in the Bayaa area, at 9 pm yesterday.

The prelate explained that the young martyr, Fadi Nabil Ibrahim Abbush, was born in 1994 and was in the second stage of college, studying accounting.

In his community, the young man was known for his good character, commitment and regular participation - along with his family - in the activities of the local church.

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