World News in Brief

Asia Bibi judge resigns from the bench

The Pakistani judge whose absence from court on October 13 caused yet another postponement of Asia Bibi’s appeal against her blasphemy death sentence has resigned from the bench.

Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman is understood to have submitted his letter of resignation on the basis that he is also a judge in the case of Salman Taseer, the late Governor of Punjab who was shot dead by his own bodyguard due to his support for Asia Bibi.

Supporters of Asia Bibi have expressed surprise at the timing of the resignation, given that if Justice Rehman felt there was a conflict of interest in his links to both cases, he should have stepped aside before Mrs Bibi’s appeal, allowing for the timely appointment of a replacement.

Fundamentalist clerics and their supporters continue to call for Asia Bibi’s immediate execution for the case of blasphemy against her.


Al Shabab targets Kenyan Christians in fresh assault

The militant Islamic group al Shabab has once again struck from Somalia against Christians in Kenya, killing 12.

Just weeks after an attack on a compound in Mandera in north-eastern Kenya which claimed six lives, gunmen hit Mandera again on October 25, once again seeking out Christians for execution. 

This time the killers targeted a guest house for non-Muslims in the small hours of the morning, using grenades to force entry to the building before spraying the interior with gunfire and moving room to room in search of guests. 

Survivors hid in a store room, with at least one managing to stay hidden under a collapsed wall, blown down by the earlier blasts.

Bordering Somalia, Mandera has been repeatedly targeted by al Shabab from at least 2014.


Students credit Virgin Mary for deliverance from ISIS

A group of young female students in Kirkuk, Iraq, who lay hidden under their beds for eight hours as members of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) used their university dormitory as a base have credited the Virgin Mary with protecting them during their ordeal.

As ISIS launched an attack on Kirkuk on October 21, gunmen stormed the building where the girls study and made the dormitory a temporary shelter during the ensuing battle. None realised that moments before they entered the room, seven students had ducked under beds where they spent eight hours praying for deliverance.

Those prayers, it has now emerged, were prompted by Fr Roni Momika, currently working with refugees in Erbil, who remained in telephone contact with the students and urged them not to forget their faith and instructed, “Pray to the Virgin Mary, she will come to help you”.

Just feet away, meanwhile, gunmen engaged in prayers of their own between eating and treating two fellow ISIS members who had been injured in the fighting.

Following a government counter attack, the ISIS gunmen fled, allowing the students to emerge and report that their prayers had been answered. 


Priest murdered in Democratic Republic of Congo

Police are investigating the murder of a Catholic priest in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fr Joseph Mulimbi Nguli, 52, was shot dead by two armed raiders in Lubumbashi on the night of October 21 as he drove to the home of a family member. He was vicar of St Martin’s parish in the Katuba district of Lubumbashi. Police arriving on the scene found an AK-47 machine gun apparently dumped by the killers as they fled.

Fr Joseph’s family has appealed for the Church locally to conduct a parallel investigation into the killing, pointing to a record of unsolved crimes on the part of the police.