Muslim extremists threaten to kill pastor after burning down his church and home in Eastern Uganda

Catholic faithful pray in front of a cross of Jesus Christ erected by a roadside in Kakoge, north of Uganda's capital Kampala, October 18, 2015. | Reuters/James Akena

Muslim extremists have threatened to kill a pastor for taking legal action against them after they destroyed his home, farm, and church building in Eastern Uganda.

Christopher James Kalaja, the pastor of Agape Sanctuary International Church, said that nine Muslims carrying blunt metal objects rampaged through his property in Nakabale village, Kaderuna Sub-County on March 27.

"As they were approaching, they were shouting 'Allah Akbar' and immediately started cutting down the trees on my farm, and thereafter pulled down the church building," Kalaja told Morning Star News. "I then took off for the sake of my life," he added.

The pastor said that the Kaderuna police took no action when he reported the incident, so he filed a suit in Budaka District court on March 28, listing Dongo Patrick and Subairi Kasabu as the gang leaders.

The police only visited the site and filed a case against the suspects after Kajala filed the lawsuit.

"Since then, I have been receiving threats that they will come for my life, that they will soon destroy me completely," said the pastor.

He said that the police have not arrested any of the suspects and that the hearing scheduled for April 13 was postponed until later this month. Kajala noted that one of the assailants was his cousin, but he does not personally know any of the other members of the group that attacked his home.

Kajala noted that residents of the predominantly Muslim area have objected to a church building that is under construction on his farm.

"These people have been hunting for me since the early '80s. And as a result, they even managed to kill my mother by poisoning, and after the death of my mother, they went ahead and killed my livestock. They are provoking me to leave the area," he narrated.

The pastor said he was unable to cover the costs of an attorney. He and his family are currently staying in a thatched hut of a friend.

Kajala, who has been leading his 86-member congregation for 10 years, stated that Muslim extremists also attacked his home in 2008, but the situation normalized after Muslim leaders apologized for trespassing when the suspects were summoned to the sub-county headquarters of Kaderuna.

About 85 percent of the Ugandan population are Christian while 11 percent are Muslim. Although the country's constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to proselytize and convert from one faith to another, Christians in eastern Uganda suffer from continual attacks committed by non-state figures.