Authorities in the Asian nation of Laos cracked down on worshiping Christians this Christmas season.
Several Christians were arrested on the days before and after Christmas in separate incidents that took place in the country’s southern Savannakhet province.
Most recently, as many as seven Christians were reportedly arrested while worshipping at a Christmas church service in the Nakanong Village.
According to the Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom, a group of nine police officers raided the Nakanong Village Christmas service around 6 p.m. last Saturday and initially arrested three church leaders.
The church leaders were taken to the Phin district police headquarters. The police later returned to the village about two hours later and arrested four more Christians, who were also taken to the Phin police headquarters.
The arrested Christians were reportedly detained for illegally gathering for worship without the government’s permission.
Around 10 p.m., according to the human rights group, police officers again returned to the village church and destroyed the stage and church’s sound system. The police cut off power to the church and confiscated three cell phones.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that the seven Christians arrested on Dec. 29 were freed and allowed to go home on Wednesday.
Earlier in December, RFA reported that five other Christians were arrested by authorities in the Non Soung village of the Phin district.
The arrests were made after a group of Christians in one village invited a pastor from a neighboring village to organize a Christmas celebration, according to a local resident.
The source, who spoke to RFA on the condition of anonymity, stated that the Christians were arrested for breaching rules designed specifically to restrict Christianity in the Phin district.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith