Gunmen who said they intended to kill a Christian in Mogadishu, Somalia for spreading his faith shot him to death last month, the victim's neighbor said, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.
According to a story by Morning Star News, two men armed with pistols shot Abdikhani Hassan seven times as he approached his home after closing his pharmacy in Kharkinley District on Oct. 20, his Muslim neighbor told a Morning Star News source.
Hassan is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and five children ranging in age from 3 to 12.
Before killing Hassan, one of the assailants told the neighbor, “We have information that Hassan is spreading wrong religion to our people, and we are looking for him,” the neighbor said.
“I got so frightened as the two young men left,” said the neighbor, whose identity is withheld for security reasons.
Morning Star News said the unidentified attackers did not rob Hassan of anything.
Islamic extremists from the Al Shabaab rebel group have killed several Christians in the past few years, and although the group no longer controls Mogadishu, a few rebels hiding their militant identity remain in the capital, a source said.
“The men who murdered Abdikhani are suspected to be Al Shabaab militia, and the government is carrying out an investigation looking for the two killers,” he said.
Al Shabaab, the Somali cell of Al Qaeda, has vowed to rid Somalia of its Christians, who meet secretly in the country where apostasy, or leaving Islam, is punishable by death.
The group is suspected of killing Fatuma Isak Elmi, 35, on Sept. 1 inside her home in Beledweyne, Hiran Province in south-central Somalia.
Morning Star News said her husband had received a threatening note that morning believed to be from the Islamic extremist group and was away at the time of the murder.
Al Shabaab's attack on the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept. 21 killed at least 67 people, with dozens still unaccounted for.
On April 13, Al Shabaab militants shot Fartun Omar to death in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Beledweyne.
Omar was the widow of Mursal Isse Siad, killed for his faith on Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu. He had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam.
Morning Star News said Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before.
The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
On June 7 in Jamaame District in southern Somalia, insurgents from the group shot 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe to death after identifying him as a Christian, sources said. Al Shabaab members brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said.
On Feb. 18, Morning Star News reported, suspected Islamic extremists shot Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on the outskirts of the coastal city of Kismayo.
In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded Farhan Haji Mose, 25, after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said.
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia.
Kenya's population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia's is close to 100 percent Muslim.