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Pakistan: 106 charged with murder

Pakistan has charged 106 people with murder, more than six months after a Christian couple were beaten and burnt to death by a mob, reports the BBC.

Shahzad Masih, 26, and his five-month pregnant wife Shama, 24, were accused by the mob of burning pages of a Qur’an, as reported by World Watch Monitor in November.

In December, a coroner said they were still alive when a mob of at least 400 people threw them into a large kiln.

The BBC reports that another 32 suspects are still at large, while three Muslim clerics are accused of inciting the mob to violence.

Iran jails another 18 converts

Another 18 Iranian converts to Christianity have been jailed during the past two months for “evangelism and establishing house churches”, reports Mohabat News.

Between them, their sentences amount to 23 years and nine months in jail.

Mansour Borji, spokesman for rights group Article 18, told Mohabat News that, although the sentences are final, some of the converts intend to appeal to a higher court.

“The Islamic regime of Iran treats Christians cruelly, while Iran’s Foreign Minister claims that no one is in jail in Iran for their beliefs,” Borji said. “Despite President [Hassan] Rouhani’s promises in his campaign, not only do we see no relief of suppression of Christians, but we see an increase in the number of arrests and unfair sentences and the security atmosphere imposed by the Islamic regime on the Iranian Christian community still continues.”

A report in March by Ahmad Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, claimed that, as of 1 January, at least 92 Christians were being detained.

Syrian villages 'liberated' from Islamic State

All the villages along the Khabour River invaded by Islamic State miilitants three months ago have been liberated, according to reports given to the Catholic News Service (CNS).

“This is very happy news,” Father Emanuel Youkhana, of Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, told CNS.

But he cautioned Christian villagers from returning home too quickly because of landmines left behind by the militants. “Three Kurdish fighters were killed by [Islamic State] landmines, and a clean-up operation is underway,” Youkhana said.

Assyrian Christian and Kurdish forces regained control of the towns with the support of US-led coalition airstrikes.

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