Killing of Nigerian Christians continues unabated in new year

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The brutal massacre of Christians in Nigeria that started at Christmas has carried over into the new year with more bloodshed in recent days.

At least 238 people are believed to have been killed by Fulani militants between 23 December and 30 December in some of the worst ever violence against Christians in Nigeria.

Sadly dozens more have been killed since then. In one attack by Boko Haram terrorists on 4 January, the pastor of a Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) church and at least six members of his congregation were killed.

Christian Daily International and Morning Star News report that the following day, terrorists attacked the town of Kwari, in Geidam County, Yobe State, and killed COCIN pastor, Rev Luka Levong, in the premises of his church and 13 members in their homes. 

“The terrorists also set fire on the COCIN church building and destroyed vehicles parked in the premises of the church, and also set fire on the houses of Christians in the town,” area resident Aaron Bwala told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message. 

Partners of Release International, a ministry supporting persecuted Christians around the world, has put the new year death toll at around 50. 

Release partners interviewed Rev Gideon Dawel, a District Overseer of Christ’s Apostolic Church, who lost his wife and five daughters in a Christmas attack in Kambarpelli. He said he heard the attackers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is greater) and that militants used guns and machetes and set fire to buildings. When the remains of his family were found in the ashes of his home, Rev Dawel collapsed and had to be taken to hospital.

In a statement, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, said the massacres have “snatched the light of the joy of Christmas from thousands of people on Plateau” and that funerals and coffins are now part of their landscape.

Commenting on the violence, Release partners said, “All security efforts have failed. This is terrorism. This is religious cleansing by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen who believe in religious war. This is an Islamic jihad. And intelligence shows that the assailants are bent on continuing their havoc.”

Release CEO, Paul Robinson, is calling for an international response to stop the bloodshed.

“The world must wake up to the religious and ethnic cleansing that is unfolding in Nigeria before their eyes. How many people must be slaughtered, before the international community puts sufficient pressure on Nigeria to protect its Christian minority in the north?” he said.

“Nigeria has long been a country of particular concern to Release International. We watch with horror as Christian villagers are slaughtered and driven from their lands, which are then occupied by Islamist extremists. And yet Nigeria – and the world – continue to let this happen.”

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