12 Christians Killed in Christmas Bloodshed in Nigeria Muslim gunmen attack two churches in Borno, Yobe states on Christmas Eve
By Dan Wooding, who was born in Nigeria Founder of ASSIST Ministries
JOS, NIGERIA (ANS)-- Christmas Eve attacks by suspected Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria's Borno state - already reeling from the slaughter of at least 10 Christians earlier this month - took the lives of six people at a Baptist church, as gunmen killed six others in Yobe state the same night.
One of the vehicles used by the bombers in the attack that hit a church inside a military barracks of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, in Jaji, Kaduna state
According to Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org) in Borno state, where Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is based, six Christians were slain at First Baptist Church in Maiduguri on Christmas Eve.
About 160 kilometers (100 miles) away in Kupwal village in Chibok Local Government Area, suspected jihadists shouting "Allahu Akbar [God is greater]" on Dec. 1 slit the throats of at least 10 people in carefully selected Christian homes, according to reports from survivors.
The story went on to say that in Yobe state on Christmas Eve, gunmen believed to be members of Boko Haram reportedly entered the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Peri, near Potiskum, and killed six Christians including a pastor before setting the church building ablaze. Several others were reported seriously wounded.
"No group has claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve attacks, but Boko Haram mounted Christmas assaults on Christians last year and in 2010," said the Morning Star News Nigeria correspondent. "Boko Haram, which reportedly has ties to Al Qaeda, has vowed to eradicate Christianity from Nigeria and seeks to impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on the entire country. Boko Haram has targeted churches, state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government.
"Before the attack in Peri, Boko Haram had reportedly battled Nigerian security forces in Potiskum, bombing a local police station and attacking a bank. Potiskum has reportedly become a hotbed for Islamic militants of Boko Haram. Attacks on Christians in Yobe state have forced thousands of Christians to flee to others parts of Nigeria, while others have become refugees in Cameroon.
"Attacks on churches in northern Nigeria have intensified since a 2011 Christmas Day attack at the town of Madallah near Abuja, Nigeria's capital."
Morning Star News added that in Jaji, in northern Nigeria's Kaduna state, 11 Christians were killed in a suicide attack on a church on Nov. 25. The Rev. Titus Sambo and Israel Olaleye, students at Baptist Theological Seminary in Kaduna, died in the dual bomb blasts at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, a military barracks church serving military personnel, their families and civilians in Jaji, about 25 miles from Kaduna City. At least 30 people were reported injured.
The bombers were suspected members of Boko Haram group, also suspected of bombing a Kaduna church on Oct. 28, killing seven Christians.
"Jaji is located midway between Kaduna and Zaria, two cities that have witnessed suicide bombings in recent months," said Morning Star News. "Besides the Oct. 28 bombing of St. Rita's Catholic Church in the Malali area of Kaduna City, in Zaria suicide bombers on June 17 carried out attacks on an ECWA congregation in the Wusasa area of the city, killing at least 24, and the Catholic Christ the King Cathedral in the Sabon Gari area, killing at least 16. In Kaduna, the group bombed a Pentecostal church, Shalom Church, where at least 10 died. Boko Haram took responsibility for the June attacks."
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north. But those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.
Note: Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation whose mission is to inform those in the free world and in countries violating religious freedom about Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact email@example.com, or send check to Morning Star News, 24310 Moulton Parkway, Suite O # 157, Laguna Hills, CA 92637, USA.
At least 12 Christians, including a pastor and a deacon, were killed by unknown gunmen in separate attacks in Northern Nigeria. The gunmen are suspected to be connected to the extremist group Boko Haram. Witnesses told the press that the gunmen also set a church on fire on Christmas Eve in connection with the attack.
Late on Christmas Eve, gunmen entered the village of Peri in Nigeria's "middle belt" state of Yobe. "A group of gunmen entered the village around midnight and went straight to the church," a resident of Peri told the Deccan Chronicle. "They opened fire on them, killing the pastor and five worshipers. They then set fire to the [Evangelical Church of West Africa in Peri]."
The head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Yobe State told the African Free Press that many of the worshipers of the Evangelical Church of West Africa were "still missing."
"I have been informed that six bodies have been recovered," an official told the African Free Press. "Some who lived near the church fled their homes during the attack and it is assumed that they are still hiding in the bush."
Christian houses that were near the church were also attacked and set on fire.
In a separate attack, worshipers at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state, were also attacked by unknown gunman. A deacon and five church members were killed.
Boko Haram is suspected to be behind this attack even though the group has yet to claim responsibility. Boko Haram is known to target Christians, their places of worship and government institutions. The extremist group is fighting to establish a separate Islamic state in Nigeria's northern regions. Most of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram has taken place along Nigeria's "Middle Belt" region where the predominantly Christian South borders the Muslim majority North. The group is believed to be responsible for killing over 3,000 people since it began its armed insurgency in 2009.
Leading up to the holiday, many Christians and government officials had been preparing for a potential attack by Boko Haram. The extremist group uses the holiday to instill terror into the especially vulnerable Christian population. Many Christians considered not attending church services because of the potential of being attacked.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, says Christians and the Nigerian government have been bracing for an attack on Christmas. Unfortunately, he adds, their perpetrations were not able to protect Christians living in Peri.
"Every Christmas since 2010, Christians in Nigeria have been attacked by Boko Haram. Combined, 96 Christians have been killed on Christmas by Boko Haram over the past three years. Earlier this year, Boko Haram demanded all Christians leave Nigeria's North. Since then, the group has continued to wage a campaign of terror against those Christians who decided to stay," Stark says.
"The United States is still deciding whether to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which if given, would allow the US to seize Boko Haram's assets under US jurisdiction. This would help stem the flow of arms and funds the group receives from sources outside Nigeria's borders. The consistency of these attacks shows Nigeria's government is struggling to deal with the violence that has dominated its northern states since 2009.The international community must take decisive action."
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