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Nigeria: Terrorist attacks close 70 churches

Terrorists in Nigeria who attack and burn churches have forced one of the largest religious communities to close 70 of its parishes in Plateau State.

According to the Church of Christ in the Nations (COCIN), continuous attacks in Mangu and Bokkos counties have forced 70 churches to close and have hampered evangelistic activities in northeastern Nigeria.

‘Burnt’

“All our churches in these communities were burned down by terrorists,” said COCIN President Pastor Amos Mohzo Morning Star News.

He added: “Christians continue to live in camps outside their communities. Most farmers are unable to reach their farms.

“Evangelism has been hindered in this part of the country. How can we deliberately endanger and threaten the lives of those who have been called to ministry when we know they will become targets for terrorist attacks?”

Attacks by heavily armed Fulani militants have claimed the lives of 238 people over the Christmas period of 2023. Attacks by Fulani, Boko Haram and bandits continue unabated.

30,000 killed

Partners with British charity Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, say Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani militants have killed more than 30,000 Nigerians since the unrest began in 2001.

According to Nigerian NGO Intersociety, jihadists have destroyed 18,000 churches since 2009.

Release International (RI) has identified Nigeria as a country where violence against Christians will increase in 2024. Persecution trends report.

Acting on intelligence, RI partners send warnings of impending attacks to local communities via text messages. They also provide critical support in the form of trauma counseling for victims.

Jihad

They believe the attacks are part of a coordinated plan to create religious conflict in several states, adding: “This is Islamic jihad. Nigerian soldiers should protect people from these attacks.”

There is a long history of Islamist attacks aimed at cleansing the north of its Christian minority dating back to the Fulani jihads of the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the 21st century, the attack on the Islamization of Nigeria is being led by terrorist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province. And a growing number of radicalized Fulani are serving the same purpose.

RI partners say Fulani militants now kill more Christians than any other terrorist group.

“Let’s protect Christians”

“Release International continues to call on the Nigerian government and its security forces to protect Christian communities from attacks,” said Release International CEO Paul Robinson.

“Nigeria has long been a country of particular concern. We have watched in horror as Christian villagers were murdered, driven from their lands, which were then occupied by Islamist extremists. Yet Nigeria – and the world – continue to allow this to happen.”

Release International operates in some 30 countries. It works through partners to provide prayerful, pastoral and practical support to families of Christian martyrs, prisoners of faith and their families. It also supports Christians suffering oppression and violence and those forced to flee.