Nigeria: Christians risk their lives to go to church

world | May 01, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

Around 300 Christians have been killed in one Anglican diocese in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, and 27 people died in attacks on three church services as anti-Christian violence committed by the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist organization continues unabated. According to the Barnabas Fund, Anglican Bishop Timothy Yahaya of Jalingo, Taraba State reported that 300 Christians have been killed over the last three weeks. On April 29, three worship services in Northern Nigeria were marred by terrorist bombing attacks that left 27 people dead.

Terrorist bombs killed 22 and injured 23 at two lecture halls on the campus of Bayero University in Kano. Terrorists threw bombs into the halls at approximately 8:30 am local time as people gathered for worship. The perpetrators of the massacre first threw bombs, and then shot at survivors as they fled. Later that same day, terrorists struck a church in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. Five people, including a pastor, were killed by gunmen in the attack at the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) building.

No party has yet owned up to the killings, but suspicions are that Boko Haram committed the atrocities. It was in March of this year that Boko Haram said it had declared war on Christian in Nigeria as part of its plan to impose Muslim religious law over the country. On New Years Day, Boko Haram issued a demand that all Christians should leave northern Nigeria. Since then, Boko Haram has conducted raids, and also threatened Christians with death if they do not leave the area, or convert to Islam. Some Christians have been mnurdered at night in their homes by terrorists seeking to extend the sectarian cleansing of northern Nigeria.

Besides, some 40 people were killed on Easter Sunday April 8 at two churches in the city of Kaduna. Besides the targetted Christians, many Muslim taxi drivers were killed in the suicide bombing as they waited outside a church to take Christians home after the Easter liturgy.

Two Christian churches in the central Nigerian city of Jos were targeted within the span of two weeks. There a pregnant woman and an 18-month-old child were among the dead. Regarding the killings, the director of the Barnabas Fund Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo said, " The simple act of going to church on a Sunday has become a perilous one for Christians in many parts of Nigeria. They very much need our prayers as they courageously continue to gather for worship despite the unrelenting violence."
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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