Boko Haram Terror in NIgeria: Violent Incidents During Ramadan Raise Concerns
You might recall the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, representing a campaign to free hundreds of Nigerian school girls kidnapped last year by the Nigerian radical Islamist group Boko Haram.
But what is happening in Nigeria today?
Tragically, many girls remain in captivity. And in addition to the kidnappings of the Chibok girls, hundreds of churches have been burned in Nigeria and thousands have lost their lives in brutal violennce.
A recent spike in violence in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria has human rights groups concerned. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has documented a significant rise in Boko Haram attacks since the start of Ramadan in June. The increase in violence has left more than 300 dead.
Many recent attacks were carried out at houses of worship and religious celebrations; both mosques and churches were targeted. On July 5th, 32 churches were burned, killing five people and a priest. Attacks on three mosques killed 150 people.
In addition to attacking churches, Boko Haram targets mosques where it believes clerics espouse a too moderate form of Islam. It is believed that the attacks in July came in response to an ISIS directive to increase attacks during Ramadan. In March of this year, Boko Haram reportedly pledged their allegiance to ISIS.
Earlier this week, President Obama and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met to discuss the fight against Boko Haram. Presdent Buhari says he is committed to reforming his military and defeating the militant group. He is seeking U.S. assistance in this effort. “I think Nigeria will make as much sacrifice as humanly possible to get the girls back. This is our main objective,” Buhari said, a day after meeting with President Obama.
This year Nigeria rose to No. 10 on Open Doors World Watch List (from No. 14 last year). Attacks by Boko Haram, most notably the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls, contributed to the country’s rise on the list.
Pray for women and girls in Nigeria who risk kidnapping simply to get an education. And pray for Christians who attend church services in spite of the threat to their lives. Learn more about how to pray for Nigeria by visiting the Open Doors World Watch List.