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Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bloody Sundays: Back-to-back Attacks on Nigeria's Churches
In 7 Days, Boko Haram Destroyed 43 Churches, Murdered 30 Faithful
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Boko Haram militants killed nine parishioners and wounded several others in an attack on a church in Gwoza, Borno State, on Sunday, June 1. The attack preceded a bombing later that evening in a predominantly Christian area of Gwoza that reportedly killed 45.
According to eye witness accounts, more than 10 Boko Haram militants attacked the Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria, or EYN Church of the Brethren, in Attagara Village during a 9:30am Sunday morning worship service. Miss Martha, a member of the victimized congregation, told journalists in Maidguri on Monday, June 2, "Our church has some men as security group. They usually keep vigilance of the church especially when service is going on."
The Boko Haram militants reportedly entered the village with motorcycles, a truck, RPGs and AK-47s. According to Miss Martha, "As we were holding service, we started hearing gunshots and everybody fled." Another eyewitness to the attack, Matthew Adamu, a resident of the village who fled to Maiduguri, said, "Some jumped through the windows and ran into the bushes. Some who live close to the church managed to run to their homes."
In response to the attack, villagers, including some parishioners of the targeted church, chased the militants, killing four and arresting three. Miss Martha recounted, "But the men in our village quickly called themselves together and chased after the Boko Haram gunmen. They were more than 10 and our men, including the vigilantes, killed four of the Boko Haram and arrested three of them. It was later that we discovered that nine of our men in the church security group were shot dead."
The attack preceded a deadly bomb blast in Mubi, a town in nearby Adamawa State, which, according to area residents, claimed as many as 45 lives. Local law enforcement, however, have only confirmed 18 dead. The blast, which exploded at roughly 6pm, targeted soccer fans viewing a game at a local bar. Others playing soccer on a nearby field were also reportedly wounded in the explosion.
The latest in a series of attacks on predominantly Christian areas throughout Nigeria's northeast, Boko Haram has reportedly "destroyed 36 churches in Gwoza area, including that of Attagara attacked on Sunday." Speaking to Morning Star News, Dr. Rebecca Dali, wife to Samuel Dali, President of the EYN, said, "There have been 24-hour-a-day attacks on Christian communities of Attagara, Hawul, and Gwoshe around the Gwoza Mountains." She further lamented, "We now have only two churches that have not been affected."
From May 25-26, Boko Haram reportedly killed 29 Christians, wounded several others, and burned down seven churches and several houses in Chinene, Chikide, Joghode, Kaghum, Ashigashiya and Amuda villages, all in Gwoza area. According to Titus Pona, chairman of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, "Most of the villages attacked in Gwoza area since a week ago are dominated by over 80% Christians."
In a timely recognition of the streak of violence throughout Borno and Adamawa States,Open Doors USA ranked Nigeria as the most violent country in its World Watch Top 10 Violence List. It reads in part, "Boko Haram continues to attack Christians on a large scale by burning down and bombing churches and Christian property, and assaulting and kidnapping Christian women and girls."
Boko Haram, or "Western education is forbidden," is a radical Islamic insurgency designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the United States and a recognized al-Qaeda affiliate by a United Nations Security Council Committee, bent on establishing a separate Islamic state to be ruled by Sharia law. The group is responsible for more than12,000 deaths over the course of its existence, the destruction of hundreds of churches and schools, and even several mosques and Islamic holy sites. In 2014 alone, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 persons, successfully carried out two car bombings in the nation's capital of Abuja, and perpetrated the mass-kidnapping of more than 240 predominantly Christian schoolgirls, some of whom have since been forcefully converted to Islam and sold into domestic and sexual servitude.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "The most recent spate of attacks by Boko Haram once again indicates targeting of Christians and their vulnerability throughout northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram continues to operate with utter impunity, opposed only by vigilante forces composed of villagers willing to sacrifice their lives in protection of loved ones. Decisive action must be taken, beyond mere words, by the international community and the Jonathan administration to bring an end to what is quickly becoming religiously-motivated genocide against Nigeria's Christian population."
For interviews, contact Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-Africa@persecution.org
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