Islamic extremists from the Al Shabaab rebel group are suspected of killing a Christian woman in one town last week and kidnaping a 13-year-old boy from another, sources said.
According to a story by Morning Star News, the militants, who have vowed to rid Somalia of its underground church, are suspected of killing Fatuma Isak Elmi, 35, on Sept. 1 at about 7:30 p.m. inside her home in Beledweyne, Hiran Province in south-central Somalia.
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.
Neighbors were alerted to the killing when they heard Elmi's 4-year-old son crying.
"The neighbors heard a child crying for quite some time," a source told Morning Star News. "After one hour, a close neighbor visited the house and found the child outside still crying."
The neighbor, whose identity is withheld for security reasons, told the source that upon entering the house she found Elmi dead.
Elmi's husband, 36-year-old Mumin Omar Abdi, learned of her death when he arrived home at about 10 p.m. He said he had found a note early that morning that read, "We shall come f or you. You are friends with our enemies (Westerners, assumed to be Christians), and you are polluting our religion."
Abdi has fled the area with his son to an undisclosed location, the source said.
In the southern Somali town of Qoryoley in the Lower Shebelle Region, two witnesses told Morning Star News they saw armed, masked men from Al Shabaab kidnap a 13-year-old boy on Sept. 3 as he approached his home on his way back from school.
Mustaf Hassan was kidnapped near Marka District at about 4 p.m., the sources said. He had been staying with a Muslim relative there since last year, when his parents fled the area after they were suspected of being Christians, another source told Morning Star News.
Another source told Morning Star News that the boy's parents, Hassan Mohammed and Farhio Omar, were in great pain and grief upon learning of the kidnapping.
"Our son might be killed, and we are also not safe," Mohammed said.
No ransom has been sought, and Christians suspected the rebels may have abducted Mustaf in an effort to find his parents or other Christians.
Mustaf is the nephew of Fartun Omar, shot to death by Al Shabaab on April 13 in Buulodbarde, 12 miles from Beledweyne.
Morning Star News reported that Omar was the widow of Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, who was killed on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village on the outskirts of Kismayo.
On Aug. 5 in Bulo Marer, Lower Shebelle Region, three masked men suspected of being Al Shabaab rebels abducted Shamsa Enow Hussein, a 28-year-old mother of two, outside her home after determining that she was a secret Christian, her husband said.
Al Shabaab, said to have ties with Al Qaeda, is battling the Somali government that replaced the Transitional Federal Government on Aug. 20, 2012.
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, sou rces said. Al Shabaab members brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said.
On March 23, Al Shabaab militants in Bulo Marer jailed and tortured a Christian, 25-year-old Hassan Gulled, for converting from Islam, Morning Star News reported sources said.
On Dec. 8 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources 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.
However, Morning Star News reported, the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16 201 2, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said.
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in Dec. 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.