North Korea has - for the 19th year in a row - topped a list of countries where persecution against Christians is worst.
Six Christians have been seriously injured in India in an attack by Hindu militants.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the planned ambush took place last Thursday (8th February) in Chapar village in the Sultanpur District of Uttar Pradesh, India's biggest province.
About 40 Christians were attending the prayer meeting at a pastor's home when it was interrupted by 25 Hindu militants, who subjected the Christians to verbal abuse and physical assault, resulting in six people requiring urgent medical attention.
Bibles and other church property were also damaged in the onslaught.
Efforts are being made by a local monitoring group to assist the victims in registering a First Information Report (FIR), which the police require in order to open an investigation.
However, the police are said to have demanded medical assessments of those injured before registering FIRs.
A source close to CSW has reported that the perpetrators had threatened to kill the Christians if they continued to gather for prayer meetings.
A similar incident occurred in Chapar village in November 2018.
CSW says Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a rise in targeted attacks against Christians in the past 24 months as a result of the false narrative about Christians forcefully converting people, which has been created by groups aligned to the Hindutva campaign of intolerance.
Local sources report that the District of Janupur experienced 12 incidents of violence in September 2018, with many Christians being turned away from churches and instances of Christian homes being raided in the night and their occupants being taken for interrogation.
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said:
"CSW is deeply concerned by this attack on a peaceful gathering of Christians, the latest indicator of a wider problem of intolerance in Uttar Pradesh. We call on the police in Uttar Pradesh to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack and ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice.
"We are increasingly concerned about the atmosphere of intolerance and hate towards religious minorities, which is unfolding in Uttar Pradesh and across India. The Christian minority in India is experiencing an uncertain and frightening future in which their fundamental rights to worship, observe, practice and teach their religion or belief are under threat. We urge India to uphold the rule of law by respecting the fundamental freedoms of its citizens, including those who belong to minority religions."
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