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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boko Haram's Blood-lettings: 10 Days of Escalating Terror
More than 45 Churches Destroyed, 258 Civilians Killed as Nigeria's Northeast Descends into Chaos
International Christian Concern
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Boko Haram militants murdered at least 83 civilians in three separate villages across northeast Nigeria's predominantly Christian Gwoza area in Borno State. Faulty telecommunications equipment delayed reports of the incident from reaching Borno State's capital of Maidguri until Wednesday, June 4.
Uniformed men in camouflaged, military-grade trucks descended on Attagara, Agapalawa and Aganjara villages Tuesday, June 3, indiscriminately firing on and killing at least 83 civilians and wounding an unknown number of others. According to eye-witness accounts, residents, who mistook the Boko Haram militants for Nigerian military personnel, were forced to flee in all directions as the armed men opened fire, destroyed homes, and burnt churches to the ground.
The attack, fifth in the Gwoza area in less than 10 days, pushed the rising death toll from 175 as of Sunday, June 1, when Boko Haram militants attacked a church, killing 9 parishioners, hours before detonating a suicide bomb near a bar, killing 45, to 258.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 this most recent streak of violence, Open Doors USA ranked Nigeria as the most violent country in the world for Christians in its World Watch Top 10 Violence List. The list 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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"While international media sights have been justifiably fixed on 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok, Borno state, Islamic extremists last week killed Christians in the state's Gwoza area nearly unnoticed, as they have for more than two years.
"On Borno state's eastern border with Cameroon, as Chibok is, the Gwoza area saw Boko Haram Islamists kill at least 29 Christians on Sunday and Monday (May 25-26), sources told Morning Star News. The attacks come after a slaughter of at least 121 people in the village of Izghe in the predominantly Christian area of Gwoza on Feb. 15.
"On Sunday (May 25), Boko Haram killed 21 Christians of a congregation of Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Gwoza town during a worship service, said the Rev. Moses Thliza of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN).
"The next day, rebels from Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, burned down seven churches and numerous houses in the area, Christian leaders reported. Nglamuda Ibrahim, a resident of Gwoza town, gave Morning Star News the names of seven Christians killed on Monday (May 26) in Chinene village: Bulama Dajiba, Bulama John, Haruna Wadda, Bitrus Kurma, Haruna Kwatha, Haruna Waruda, and Shaibu Galva.
"'In the Monday [May 26] attack, six churches were burned, eight Christians were killed and several others seriously injured," Ibrahim said. "We cannot count the number of houses that were burned in the villages of Chinene, Chikide, Joghode, Kaghum and in Amuda village, where one Christian was killed and several others injured."
"Also attacked, Ibrahim said, was the predominantly Christian village of Ashigashiya. He said surviving Christians from these areas have called on the Borno state government pleading for help..."
Suspected Boko Haram rebels kill nine volunteers guarding worship service.
June 3, 2014 By Our Nigeria Correspondent
Morning Star News
Suspected Boko Haram Islamists killed nine Christians guarding a church service in Borno state on Sunday (June 1), hours before a bombing of a Christian area in neighboring Adamawa state resulted in at least 48 deaths, Christian leaders said.
In Borno, at least 10 gunmen attacked a Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria or EYN) congregation during worship in Attagara village, near Gwoza town on northeastern Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, they said. The gunmen killed nine EYN members volunteering as a security team, area Christian leaders told Morning Star News, and a local witness reportedly said area men mobilized, killed four of the Boko Haram attackers and arrested three others.
One area Christian leader said the attackers were a small part of 200 assailants who have invaded Attagara and other predominantly Christian villages around Gwoza the past two weeks, destroying homes and churches.
“Our church in Attagara was attacked also on Sunday,” said Dr. Rebecca Dali, adding that church members there and in surrounding villages sent distress calls to her husband, Samuel Dali, who is president of the EYN. “There have been 24-hour-a-day attacks on Christian communities of Attagara, Hawul, and Gwoshe around the Gwoza mountains.”
She said her husband made efforts to contact military officers in the Borno capital of Maiduguri but received no positive response.
“My husband eventually contacted the presidency in Abuja, and a military helicopter was sent to the area to contain the attack on these Christian villages,” Dali said. “Reports we received from the area show that the soldiers drafted there to repel attackers could not get to the villages on claims that they did not receive orders from their command headquarters in Maiduguri to fight the insurgents.”
Recent attacks on Attagara, Gwoshe, Hawul, and other Gwoza villages have resulted in the destruction of 36 church buildings in the area, Dali said. “The Boko Haram Islamists have destroyed 36 churches in Gwoza area, including that of Attagara attacked on Sunday,” she said. “We now have only two churches that have not been affected.”
Paul Gadzama, a native of Borno state who is director of Relief, Empowerment And Development Missions (READ Missions), said the attacks on the Attagara EYN church and other villages in Gwoza are part of a strategy to eliminate Christians.
“Boko Haram gunmen have continued to attack these areas inhabited by Christians with the sole aim of pushing them out to enable establish an Islamic country,” Gadzama told Morning Star News in Jos. “So far they have taken over so many villages, forcing our people to flee to Cameroon.”
Titus Pona, chairman of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper that the Gwoza area is more than 80 percent Christian. The Nigerian Army is reportedly ill-equipped and/or unwilling to thwart terrorist attacks, and Pona reportedly said that after many Christians were killed during the attacks of the last two weeks, villagers trying to defend themselves killed 37 Boko Haram rebels on Sunday (June 1).
Explosion in Adamawa
Suspected members of Boko Haram on Sunday (June 1) also bombed a predominantly Christian area in Mubi, Adamawa state, with casualties higher than official figures, according to area Christians.
Explosives detonated at 6 p.m. in the Kabang area of Mubi, in northeastern Nigeria, killed and wounded patrons at a bar for viewing televised soccer as well as people at a nearby soccer game, said Dali, a resident of Mubi.
“There were some of our church members who were in the vicinity of the bomb attack, and they said at least 48 persons were killed in the attack,” she said. “Those who died are mostly Christians. Some Christian youths were also playing soccer near the bombed area, and they were affected by the bombing.”
Other witnesses reportedly said at least 45 people died in the blast, which also damaged several shops.
EYN is headquartered in Mubi.
“Our church, EYN, lost two of her members in the bomb attack, and they are one John, a member of the New Life for All Gospel Team [evangelistic outreach] in the church, and Miss Godiya John, a member of the Girls Fellowship in the church,” Dali told Morning Star News. “As I speak to you now [11 a.m. Monday, June 2], their funeral service is going on in the church.”
The government figure for those killed was 18, according to Director of Defense Information Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade. Initially he reportedly made reference to the bomb exploding at a soccer field, but at a press conference with other security officials on Monday (June 2) he referred to it as an explosion at the TV-viewing bar as he advised soccer fans to be vigilant during the upcoming World Cup. Olukolade reportedly said 19 people were wounded from the blast, though witnesses said dozens were injured.
Near the site of the explosion is the headquarters of the Special Operations Battalion of the Nigerian Army that is trying to counteract Boko Haram violence, though soldiers are reportedly advised not to frequent the bar after 4 p.m. It was not clear at press time how many of the victims were soldiers.
Witnesses reportedly said explosives were hidden in a pair of three-wheeled vehicles outside the bar. The military’s Olukolade reportedly said two suspects were arrested, but that one of them later died in a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack.
Adamawa Gov. Murtala Nyako described the bomb attack as “barbaric, repugnant and unacceptable.”
Mubi and surrounding areas have been under attack by Boko Haram Islamists fighting to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria; the rebels seek more strict enforcement of sharia in the country’s northern states, where it is already in place applicable to the region’s Muslim population.
In the recent attacks, five members of the EYN church were killed in Saminaka village, near Mubi, while nine other church members were killed in nearby Njilang village, Dali said.
“In these attacks, houses of our church members were destroyed, and they were displaced, as many of them were forced out of their villages,” she said.
Boko Haram (“Western education is a sin”), the name residents of Maiduguri, Borno state originally gave the group that calls itself, “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad” (from the Arabic, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad,), has killed thousands of civilians since 2009.
The Nigerian government declared a military state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in northeastern Nigeria on May 14, 2013. Nigeria outlawed Boko Haram on June 4, declaring their activities illegal and “acts of terrorism,” and the U.S. State Department designated the group as a terrorist organization on Nov. 13.
With some members of the Nigerian group coming from Cameroon, Chad and Niger, Boko Haram has grown into a heavily armed militia with ties to Al Qaeda. The State Department’s 2012 Terrorism report ranked it the second deadliest terrorist group worldwide, after the Taliban.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. 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.
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