A Christian leader has been beheaded and others are being threatened with similar treatment as Islamic militants run amok in Mali, West Africa.
Christians have fled the town of Timbuktu in the north of the country where harsh Sharia Law has already been imposed amid reports that churches in Gao, 200 miles to the east, have been completely destroyed.
The news comes in the wake of a military coup in the country, one of the effects of which is that sanctions applied from outside has cut off electricity supplies, further delaying reports of the latest upheavals along with desperate pleas for help.
Among those affected is British Bible college graduate Timothee (Tim) Yattara, who recently returned home to his home country in a bid to help spread the gospel in this remote – and now dangerous – part of Africa located on the edge of the Sahara.
Tim has fled with his family to Bamako, the country’s main city some 400 miles away in the south-west, but without the money to rent a house.
“We have escaped in the wake of horrible death threats as the Islamists have a list of all the Christians in Timbuktu whom they intend to execute by beheading. As proof of their intentions, one leader has already been killed in this way and some churches in Gao have been demolished. Most Christians have already fled for safety, but Sharia Law has been imposed all over the north.
“As refugees in Bamako, life is very difficult for me and my family as we are in desperate need of finance, just to pay for shelter and safety,” he said.
Already suffering famine through drought, Mali is being terrorized by Al Qaida and associated rebels said to be claiming the northern part of the territory as their homeland.
Only last week we were reporting that Timbuktu was surrounded by tents inhabited by impoverished people who have fled the countryside in the wake of the spreading famine, exacerbated by rising unemployment and massive inflation with many struggling to find food and work.
And with a government now overthrown by a coup, the security situation has been made even worse by rebels from Libya loyal to their former leader Col Gaddafi.