NORTHERN NIGERIA (BP) — Thousands have fled their homes in northern Nigeria amid Islamic extremist attacks on Christians, partly in retaliation for the government’s state of emergency and the destruction of extremist bases.
Extremists killed a pastor in Nigeria’s Borno State and attacked two towns in the northeastern Nigerian state in June and, less than a week later, killed a Christian and attacked villages in Plateau State some 300 miles southwest, Morning Star News reported.
The violence was attributed to ethnic Fulani Muslims and to the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, indicating the latter has regrouped and retaliated against Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s state of emergency and corresponding destruction in May of Boko Haram bases in the Sambisa Games Reserve in Borno.
Boko Haram is blamed for killing pastor Jacob Kwiza and attacking five Christian communities in Borno’s Mandara Hills area, Morning Star News reported. Fulani Muslims are blamed for killing Toma Vongjen, a Christian in the Wase area of Plateau State, and destroying church buildings in four villages there, the persecution monitor reported.
The thousands who fled their homes had been warned by Boko Haram to flee within a week or face death, area Christians said, the Associated Press reported.
Dinfa Lambda, a pastor in Jos, told Morning Star News whole villages have been displaced in northern Nigeria and that Christian fellowship and evangelistic outreach efforts are no longer possible.
“There are Christian villages that have been completely wiped out by these Muslim terrorists,” Lambda was quoted as saying, referring to Wase, Langtang and Shendam, all in Plateau State. “For a number of years, the attacks on Christians in these three local government areas have caused the displacement of thousands of Christians there.”
In killing pastor Kwiza, Boko Haram firebombed five churches in the Mandara Hills area at night while chanting “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is Great”) and stole grain and livestock before leaving at sunrise, the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard News reported. Mandara Hills is home to several Christian communities in Borno.
All the attacked villages are located near the borders of the Borno forest, Christians said, though Nigerian government forces earlier claimed they had captured the area from Boko Haram during anti-terrorist operations.
Obed Dashan, Church of Christ in Nations general secretary, told Morning Star News that Christians in Borno are traumatized by the attacks.
“Boko Haram terrorists’ activities especially in Borno and Yobe states have not only impacted negatively on Christians there but also led to creating communities that are traumatized and paralyzed economically,” Morning Star News quoted Dashan. “Ministering to such a church that is traumatized can be very difficult.”
Last year, more than 900 Christians were killed in Nigeria because of their faith, accounting for more than 70 percent of Christians killed globally, and outpacing Christian casualties in Pakistan, Syria, Kenya and Egypt combined, according to Morning Star News.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).