At least one Christian is confirmed dead and several others are wounded in attacks in Ethiopia blamed on a large, well-organized group of Muslims, church leaders told Jonathan Racho, International Christian Concern's regional manager for Africa. More than 4,000 Christians in the Jimma area of western Ethiopia have been displaced because of the violence this month. The group also set ablaze 59 buildings and at least 30 homes belonging to Christians over the past week.
The attacks began March 2 after Muslims accused a Christian of tearing up a copy of the Quran in the city of Asendabo. Church leaders claimed the torn Quran was planted as part of a planned attack by an Islamic extremist group that rallied thousands of Muslim to burn Christian buildings and homes starting in Asendabo, and then spreading to Chiltie, Gilgel Gibe, Nada, Dimtu, Uragay, Busa, and Koticha, according to Compass Direct News.
Most of the buildings burned were churches, but a Bible school, two offices for Christian leaders, and an orphanage also were torched.
The Christian killed is believed to have been a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, according to Compass Direct. Several ministers were injured and many Christians have fled the area for fear of their safety, but the full extent of the attacks is still unknown.
Church leaders say the local police stood by and did nothing as the rampage went on, and it wasn't until military forces were sent to the area by the federal government that the attacks stopped. Authorities have arrested 130 people for instigating religious violence and hatred, according to Voice of America. Military forces are guarding churches and the local officials that had ignored the violence have been removed from their positions.
Church leaders are calling on the government for greater protection for Christians in the area, saying that it is likely such an attack could happen again.
According to the 2007 census, over 60 percent of Ethiopians are Christian and 40 percent are Muslim, but the area in which the attack happened was predominately Muslim.