ABUJA, Nigeria, January 11, 2024 (Christian Daily International-Morning Star News)
Islamic extremist rebels on Jan. 1 killed 15 Christians in attacks on two villages in northeastern Nigeria, sources said.
Area residents said members of Boko Haram first attacked Gartamawa village, Chibok County in Borno state, killing 12 Christians and wounding two others. The rebel militants then went to nearby Tsiha village and killed three Christians and kidnapped another, residents said.
“The Christians in Tsiha were killed in an ambush by the terrorists as the Christians were returning to their community from Gartamawa village, after attending the funeral of those killed hours earlier at Gartamawa village,” Mary Barde told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message.
Jennifer Kefas, another resident, said a “young Christian girl” was kidnapped in the attack on Tsiha village.
“This aside, the Boko Haram terrorists broke into stores in the two communities and looted food items and other valuables,” Kefas said in a text message. “Houses, too, were burned by the terrorists.”
Nahum Daso, spokesman for the Borno State Police Command, said in a press statement that the attacks were carried out by Boko Haram, which has been fighting to establish sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
“The insurgents bearing deadly weapons attacked Gartamawa and Tsiha villages,” Daso said. “In all, 15 persons were killed and two others were injured.”
Northeastern Nigeria has been under attack from Boko Haram since 2009, including the kidnapping of 276 high school girls from Chibok town in 2014. Military authorities said in October 2022 that 98 of the kidnapped girls remain missing.
Col. Obinna Ezuipke, head of intelligence at the military high command in the northeast, said that 57 of the girls escaped in 2014, and 107 were released in 2018. Three of the girls were recovered in 2019, two in 2021, and nine were rescued in 2022, leaving 98 who remain in captivity, he said.
Boko Haram, formerly led by Abubakar Shekau, aligned with the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in 2015, and in August 2016, Islamic State leaders replaced Shekau with Abu Musab al-Barnawi as ISWAP’s leader. A Shekau-led faction broke off into a separate group, reverting back to the name Boko Haram, officially Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad.
Shekau killed himself by detonating a suicide vest on May 19, 2021, during a battle between Boko Haram and ISWAP, according to ISWAP, Nigerian officials, and The Wall Street Journal.
In 2015, the Global Terrorism Index ranked Boko Haram as the deadliest terror group in the world.
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married, or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
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Originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.