03/12/2011, 00.00
ETHIOPIA
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Ethiopia: Muslim radicals burn twelve Protestant churches. One dead, dozens injured

The riots erupted after the charge, probably false, of desecration of the Koran. The police fail to prevent the destruction of places of worship. The government obliged to send the army. Kwarej radical group responsible, which wants to create an Islamic state in the area, of Muslim majority.

Addis Ababa (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In recent days, Muslim extremists have launched violent attacks against evangelical Christians in the area of Asendabo in the heart of the country. Twelve Protestant churches, the houses of two evangelical preachers and the homes and properties of Christians in the area were destroyed. Christian leaders have called for police protection, but it seems the attacks and arson continued even after federal police arrived in the city.

Muslims begun their attacks on March 2, after accusing the Christians of having desecrated the Koran. A crowd of Muslims shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) attacked three evangelical churches setting them on fire. When the federal police arrived, the riots continued, and agents, overwhelmed by numbers, were unable to prevent other places of worship suffering the same fate.

With every passing day the violence has not decreased. According to sources, a Christian was killed, several others were injured and more than a dozen homes and places of prayer have been burned including a school, an orphanage and the offices of a church. Nearly three thousand Christians have been displaced by the wave of violence.

A local Christian leader told to International Christian Concern that the attacks were organized by members of Kwarej, a radical Islamic group which aims to create a Muslim state in the majority Coptic country. Those responsible for the attacks come from different regions of the country, including those close to Somalia. "It 's very sad that a radical Islamic group seeks to destabilize the coexistence between Christians and Muslims. We call on all leaders to help us, on the authorities to prevent the recurrence of similar attacks in the future", said the leader of a local church.

The Ethiopian government has sent the army to the area, because the police are unable to handle the situation. It seems several arrests have been made of suspected Muslim leaders in the region, one of the few areas with a Muslim majority.

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