Further details have emerged about the five Christians tragically executed at the hands of extremists in Nigeria over Christmas. It is also now believed that at least 28 people were killed in the multiple attacks on Christian communities in the north-eastern region of the country.
Christians in northern Nigeria, and in the Middle Belt, continue to be greatly vulnerable to persecution
On Christmas Eve, The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP), an affiliate of so-called Islamic State with links to Boko Haram, attacked the Christian-majority village of Garkida in the state of Adamawa. They looted and burnt properties, killed at least two people, including a five-year-old, and abducted five Christian men. Many fled the village before returning the next day.
A video posted on 30 December on Amaq (the media channel of so-called Islamic State) purportedly shows the five men declaring their names and Christian faith before being shot dead from behind. All five men were part of a church that just a few days prior to the attack celebrated Christmas.
“This video is a reminder of other videos that we have seen," said Illia Djadi, Open Doors' Senior Analyst for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Think of the beheading of the Coptic Christians by Islamic State on a Libyan beach in February 2015. It's the same scenario.”
“It is part of the communication strategy of Islamist groups, and Boko Haram is using the same strategy where also the timing is not coincidental,” Illia adds. “The Christmas period is important because of the media attention an attack will attract, and so Christians can expect to be targeted during this time.”
Islamist militants also targeted other predominantly Christian villages in the north-eastern states of Adamawa and Borno. On Christmas Eve, they attacked Pemi and killed at least 11 people, abducted a further seven, including a pastor, and burned houses and the church. At least a further ten are believed to have been killed in attacks on Azare and Shaffe.
“They directly attacked those communities," said Djadi. “Don't forget, these groups want to establish caliphate, Islamic law. Christians are their primary target.”
Open Doors calls on the Church worldwide to stand with the families of the victims. “Join us in praying for them, to be courageous in their mourning and have the grace to trust the Lord to fulfill His purposes with their sacrifice," said a spokesperson for Open Doors in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Pray also for those who continue life under the renewed onslaught of Boko Haram. The resulting deaths, displacement and trauma are sufferings the church in this area is so familiar with. Pray that Christians will remain firm in the faith and constant in hope despite the challenges."
Original article - posted 5 January 2021
At least 12 people have been tragically killed in separate attacks on Christian communities by militant groups in Nigeria on Christmas Eve.
“Boko Haram attacked Pemi village, killed seven people and abducted another seven, including a pastor," Kachallah Usman, secretary of the Chibok local government area, told CNN. “They also burned down a church, a dispensary and several houses.”
Pemi, located in Borno state, is a Christian-majority village. It is approximately 20 km from Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls six years ago. Around 100 remain in captivity.
Elsewhere, five Christians taken from the village of Garkida in Adamawa state, also on Christmas Eve, were later executed by ISWAP (an affiliate of so-called Islamic State with links to Boko Haram).
"We don't know the number of deaths at this stage but expect casualty figures to be high." Open Doors partner
Other villages were also attacked. “Boko Haram have attacked the communities and a large number of believers were forced to flee last night [26 December] for safety,” Open Doors partners reported. “We don't know the number of deaths at this stage but expect casualty figures to be high. Over five communities are under simultaneous attack.”
There are 93.8 million Christians in Nigeria, making up 46.7 per cent of the population. In the south of the country, Nigerians are mostly free to follow Jesus – but northern Nigeria (where the states of Borno and Adamawa are located) and the ‘middle belt’ sees extreme Christian persecution.
You can hear first-hand what life is like for Christians in Nigeria by tuning in to the World Watch List Parliamentary launch next Wednesday (13 January).
Amina's husband was killed by Boko Haram and, five years later, she was kidnapped and held hostage for eight months. She'll be speaking at the launch, sharing how Covid-19 has exacerbated the persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
There is still time to invite your MP to the launch. If you’ve already done this, could you send your MP a polite reminder? It might make all the difference.
You can ask your MP to attend the World Watch List launch on 13 January 2021.
It's a crucial opportunity for decision makers to hear first-hand from the persecuted church - you can make a real difference by getting in touch.