Islamic extremists in eastern Uganda set a pastor’s home on fire on Wednesday (June 30), burning him to death, sources said.

Pastor Isima Kimbugwe’s body was burned beyond recognition after the assailants set his home on fire in Buseta village, Kibuku District at about 10:30 p.m., local Christians said.

Leaving Islam to become a Christian in 2017, Pastor Kimbugwe had fled the village after area Muslims upset with him leading five Muslims to faith in Christ threatened to kill him, the sources said. He worked for a Christian organization in Kampala until the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a loss of donor support that caused it to shut down, leading him to his return to his home village.

“Immediately after arriving at his house, Muslims sent a young boy aged 14 who was a student at an Islamic school at Kibuku,” said a source who requested anonymity. “He greeted the pastor in the Islamic way, ‘Asalamu Asalamu alaikumu [I greet you, in Arabic].’ The pastor refused to answer but instead replied that Jesus loves you. The boy spat saliva on the ground and uttered the Islamic [jihadist] slogan, ‘Allahu Akbar [Allah is Greater]’ and ran away.’”

At about 9 p.m. the pastor had supper with his brother, Geoffrey Kadogo, at his house, then returned to his home about 200 meters away.

“Upon arriving, he heard some footsteps outside and became fearful, and there and then he made a phone call telling me of his fears,” Kadogo said. “By 10:30 we saw flames of fire and smoke from his house. Arriving at the scene, the house was completely burnt up, and nearby was a small steel jerrycan, a cap and Koranic notes. The notes read, ‘Your enmity to Islam is what you have ripe,’” an idiom meaning he had provided a valid reason for them setting him and his house on fire according to Islam.

The local Muslims had warned the pastor several times to stop sharing the gospel, but he continued to lead Muslims to faith in Christ, Kadogo said.

“This led to this atrocious act,” he told Morning Star News.

Officers of the Kituti police station arrived at the site that night, and the next morning police from headquarters in Kibuku came and took the pastor’s body to a mortuary.

Pastor Kimbugwe’s remains were buried in a funeral service on Thursday (July 1) attended by 20 people, the maximum allowed under COVID-19 protocol.

He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 10 and 17. When Pastor Kimbugwe fled to Kampala, his family members, who had also become Christians, went to live with relatives in another district.

Police investigations have turned up three suspects in the killing.

The assault was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

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