A pastor in southwest Mexico was shot and killed during a church service on Sunday amid ongoing targeting of faith leaders by criminal gangs.
According to international watchdog charity group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was preaching from the pulpit of the Fraternidad Cristiana church in the town of Tlalixtac de Cabrera in the Oaxaca state when he was shot at point-blank range.
Canseco died while he was being transported to a local hospital. His attacker was arrested after congregants prevented his escape.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and congregation of Pastor Cruz Canseco,” CSW Chief Executive Merwyn Thomas said in a statement. “The fact that he was targeted while in the pulpit is particularly shocking.”
A translated statement posted on the Fraternidad Christiana Facebook page reads: “We regret the departure of Alfrery Lictor Cruz Canseco, friend and brother in Christ very loved by our congregation.”
Although the motive remains uncertain, CSW, which advocates for Christians in over 20 countries worldwide, notes that the killing comes on the heels of a recent series of attacks that have targeted religious leaders in the region.
Among the recent attacks against faith leaders was the kidnapping of Pastor Aarón Méndez Ruiz, who ran a shelter for Cuban immigrants in Nuevo Laredo and was abducted on Aug. 3.
“We also remain concerned for the wellbeing of Pastor Méndez Ruiz and urge the Mexican government to spare no effort in ensuring his safe return, investigating all of these crimes and prosecuting those responsible,” Thomas stated.
CSW warns that the expansion of criminal groups in Mexico as well as a “climate of impunity” when it comes to crimes they commit has led to an increase in violence against Protestant and Catholic leaders because they are viewed as a threat to criminal groups.
According to CSW, 10 religious leaders were killed in Mexico in 2018.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith