Christians in North Sudan forced to stand and watch as church destroyed

Sudanese Christians were forced to stand and watch as their church was demolished despite government promises to stop targeting Christians.

Two pastors, Paul Salah and Naji Abdullah, were arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and held for several hours after the church in Khartoum's Soba al-Aradi suburb was destroyed.

Sudanese Christians say a wider government crackdown has been imposed against churches, with a number having been demolished.Reuters

Residents reacted with fury after no warning was given, according to another local pastor, Rev Elias Abdelrahim.

'We heard about the news of the demolition at 2pm,' he told Dabanga News.

'Members of the church and I arrived at the site in the afternoon and found the church levelled.'

He added: 'A part of the building was still standing but it's not suitable for prayer.'

Authorities had previously announced plans to demolish 27 churches across Muslim-majority North Sudan but the move was abandoned after a court appeal.

Officials arriving to destroy the church on the outskirts of Khartoum cited a lack of planning permission as their reason.

But Sudanese Christian leaders have often said it is impossible to obtain permission to build a church since the majority of Christians were forced into famine stricken South Sudan after the north and south split in 2011.

Abdelrahim said the church building had stood for years before planning permission came about and was approved by local unofficial bodies.

'We now rely on preliminary papers that are issued by the local, popular committees.'