Nigeria: Muslims destroy 70 churches
In Nigeria, the Catholic Church painted a bleak picture for Christians living in the oil-rich African nation, especially in Benue state. In the center of Nigeria, more than 70 churches have been destroyed, and thousands of people, especially in remote villages, are left without a place of worship.
In a report from the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in Benue state, Felix Apine, Coordinator of the Commission "Justice, Development and Peace" declared that 30 churches in the western Gwer area have been burned or completely destroyed, while Christians have fled to other villages. Another 40 have been razed to the ground in the area of Guma. Also destroyed by Muslim marauders affiliated with the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist organization were primary and secondary schools belonging to the diocese. Volunteers and catechists continue to visit the area to assess the damage.
Archbishop Yiman Orkwar, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria - a non-Catholic grouping - confirmed the destruction of churches and schools and said that the toll may still rise. In Benue, cattle herders belonging to the Fulani ethnic group, mostly Muslims, have attacked villages inhabited by ethnic Tiv farmers, mostly Christians.
Concerning the incursions by Fulani farmersin to Tiv territory, which has caused 30 deaths, Archbishop Orkwa noted "with dismay the destruction of lives and property, by Fulani herdsmen and unknown men, with sophisticated weaponry." What is happening to Christians "are not mere accidents, but is the result of the work of Boko Haram jihadists and Fulani jihadists," he said, calling the institutions to defend the population. "We are not dealing with clashes - he said - but attacks suffered by Christian farmers."
Calling on journalists to report accurately on the crisis, Archbishop Orkwar pointed out that rather than say “attacks” “insurgence” or “invasion” of the land or farms, he was shocked to see reports saying “clashes”, wondering the suitability of the words since he said the people are neither living together nor are neighbours.
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