Persecution, Violence Increase In Northern Nigeria
SANTA ANA, Calif. (March 14, 2013) – The level of insecurity and lawlessness in Northern Nigeria that is stretching Open Doors’ capacity was highlighted once more by the announcement of the newly emerged Islamic sect Ansaru Islam on Saturday that it has killed seven foreign hostages the group kidnapped in Bauchi a month ago. The group issued a statement in Arabic and English on an affiliate of the Sinam al-Islam network accompanied by screen shots of a video purportedly showing the dead hostages.
“The Nigeria and British government (rescue) operation led to the death of all seven Christian foreigners,” the statement claimed. Although Nigerian authorities say they were unable to confirm the deaths, it is understood that the countries of the victims have pronounced them dead.
While northerners in general bemoan the inability of the Nigerian government to bring the situation under control, Open Doors’ work in the country is under immense pressure as violence against Christians continues. The violence includes:
Factory workers killed for not attending Friday prayers
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged authorities to probe the gruesome killing of 13 factory workers identified as Christians on Feb. 22. Suspected Boko Haram militants attacked factory workers at their living quarters in Sharada Phase 3 of Kano. According to sources, the Muslims confronted the Christians about the reason they were not attending Muslim evening prayers. When the workers replied that they were Christians, they were told to step aside from their families. In clear sight of the women and children, the 12 men were shot dead. A 13th man who was hiding had to come out when he heard the attackers saying they would kill the women and children if he did not show himself. When he did, he too was killed.
Bishop Ransom Bello, CAN chairman in Kano, is accusing Kano state government of nonchalance over the incident while Kano State Commissioner alleged that eight people were killed. “I insist the number of Christians who were shot dead in that raid were 13. We have the record, their names and places of birth, and we may be tempted to publish them in full if the argument on this figure continues,” Bello stated. Pray for God’s comfort to the traumatised families of the factory workers. Pray for justice to be served.
Attackers kill church-goers
On March 10 Gunmen on tricycles launched attacks at the Hotoro, Sharada and Dakata areas of Kano, northwest Nigeria, killing three and injuring several other civilians as they were returning home after Sunday evening service before speeding off. Witnesses told journalists gun shots rang out, sending fear and panic into people. Joint Task Force spokesman, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, said they have arrested four of the attackers. Pray for God’s comfort to families affected by the killing.
Tudun Wada Christians threatened
On March 11 Christian leaders in Tudun Wada, Kano state, gathered at the site where their church was destroyed in 2007. They are planning to rebuild. During their visit they were confronted and threatened by Muslim youths who vowed to never allow the rebuilding of another church in Tudun Wada. The leaders who wanted to report the incident to the local authorities were not allowed to enter the premises of the ministry in charge of complaints. The leaders called Open Doors asking for prayer in their situation. Pray for wisdom for these Christians as they respond and that justice will be done. Pray that the Lord will continue to build His Kingdom in Tudun Wada even if there are no physical buildings to gather.
The 21 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army (NA) in Maiduguri, Borno State, has recovered high-calibre ammunition in an abandoned vehicle in the bush in Maiduguri-Gamdoru-Ngala only hours after President Goodluck Jonathan departed after his two-day visit last week. The amount of weapons displayed by the Joint Task Force sparked fear among northerners, especially Christians. Seven explosions occurred during this time, which many fear were failed attempts on the president’s life. Pray for peace in Northern Nigeria. Pray that the government will be able to bring the situation under control soon.
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ’s light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles and Christian literature, training Christian leaders, facilitating social/economic projects and uniting believers in the West in prayer for Christians, who are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Open Doors USA Media Relations Director Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email JerryD@odusa.org or Communications & Public Relations Coordinator Emily Fuentes at 949-413-6721 or EmilyF@odusa.org.)