Violence against Christians continued in Nigeria the first week of June as members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram attacked villages and churches in the northeastern portion of the country in a self-proclaimed effort to wipe out the predominant Christian faith in the African nation.
On June 4, reported BBC News, a group of Boko Haram terrorists posing as Christian ministers killed an estimated 45 people in a village near Maiduguri, capital of the Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. Survivors said that the attackers invited residents to come and hear them preach, but then opened fire on the crowd before fleeing across a river and set fire to houses and buildings in a nearby village.
That murderous attack followed an earlier and even more deadly one June 2, as Boko Haram terrorists dressed as soldiers attacked three villages in the remote Gwoza area of Borno State, slaughtering an estimated 200 civilians. In this case, reported Fox News, the killers “arrived in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks — commonly used by the military — and told the civilians they were soldiers ‘and we are here to protect you all’ — the same tactic used by the group when they kidnapped [hundreds of girls] from a school in the town of Chibok on April 15.”
After the terrorists had gathered the residents together, “they began to shout 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar' at the top of their voices,” said a survivor of the attack. “Then they began to fire at the people continuously for a very long time until all that gathered were dead.”
Meanwhile, Morning Star News, which monitors persecution and assaults against Christians around the world, reported on two similar attacks Sunday, June 1, in which Boko Haram thugs attacked and killed nine Christians guarding a church service in the Borno state, and 48 others in an attack in neighboring Adamawa state.
According to Christian leaders on the scene, at least 10 gunmen were involved in the attack on a Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) congregation in a village on Nigeria's border with Cameroon. Reports from the scene confirmed that nine individuals volunteering as security for the church were killed in the attack. In the aftermath, Christian leaders told Morning Star News, area men mobilized to kill four of the terrorists, and capture three others, who were arrested by local authorities.
One local church leader, Dr. Rebecca Dali, whose husband Samuel Dali is the general overseer of the EYN congregations, said the attackers were part of a larger group of as many as 200 terrorists who have carried out a nearly continuous assault against Christians in the area, damaging and destroying churches and the homes of congregants.
“There have been 24-hour-a-day attacks on Christian communities of Attagara, Hawul, and Gwoshe around the Gwoza mountains,” said Dr. Dali, noting that her husband had attempted without success to contact military officials in the Borno capital of Maiduguri. She said that the attackers had met with little resistance in their ongoing assaults on Christian areas. “The Boko Haram Islamists have destroyed 36 churches in Gwoza area, including that of Attagara attacked on Sunday,” she said. “We now have only two churches that have not been affected.”
The June 1 attack in the village of Mubi in the state of Adamawa, a predominantly Christian community, killed 48 people, many of them patrons of a bar viewing a televised soccer match, as well as spectators at a nearby soccer game. “There were some of our church members who were in the vicinity of the bomb attack, and they said at least 48 persons were killed in the attack,” a resident of the town told Morning Star News. “Those who died are mostly Christians. Some Christian youths were also playing soccer near the bombed area, and they were affected by the bombing.”
Paul Gadzama of the Nigeria mission group Relief, Empowerment And Development (READ) told Morning Star News that the stated goal of the Boko Haram is to wipe out Christianity in Nigeria, which has a population that is about 80 percent Christian. “Boko Haram gunmen have continued to attack these areas inhabited by Christians with the sole aim of pushing them out to enable the establishment of an Islamic country,” he said. “So far they have taken over so many villages, forcing our people to flee to Cameroon.”
According to most statistics, Nigeria's population of 158 million is over 50 percent Christian, with Muslim accounting for another 45 percent. Indigenous and other religions account for the remainder.
The Nigerian newspaper Leadership reported that over a dozen senior Nigerian military officers have been court-martialed on charges that they provided information and arms to the Boko Haram terrorists. The paper quoted an anonymous Nigerian “top security” official as saying that those arrested “include about ten generals and other ranks, not to talk of soldiers who have been found culpable of sabotaging our operations. They are facing trial before court-martials [sic] set up by their divisions. Some have been found guilty, and some are still facing trial.”
International Christian Concern (ICC) noted that in 2014 alone, Boko Haram has murdered more than 1,500 persons in Nigeria and carried out two car bombings in the nation's capital of Abuja, not to mention the kidnapping of more than 240 mostly Christian schoolgirls, who have been force-fed Islamic fundamentalism and sold into slavery and sexual servitude.
“Boko Haram continues to operate with utter impunity” throughout many sectors of Nigeria, “opposed only by vigilante forces composed of villagers willing to sacrifice their lives in protection of loved ones,” said Cameron Thomas, ICC's regional manager for Africa. “Decisive action must be taken, beyond mere words, by the international community and the [administration of President Goodluck Johnathan] to bring an end to what is quickly becoming religiously motivated genocide against Nigeria's Christian population.”
Photo shows women and children who survived attacks at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Wada Chakawa, Yola, Nigeria, Jan. 31, 2014: AP Images.