Gunmen attack Baptist church service in Nigeria; 4 kidnapped, 1 dead

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Christians in Nigeria worship in a church in this undated file photo. |

Armed Fulani radicals raided the Sunday service of a Baptist church in Nigeria, killing one, injuring another and abducting four women as violence escalates in Kaduna state.

Charity Musa, Rose Zacharia, Alheri Bala and Liatu Zakka, a widow whose husband was murdered in a previous attack, were the four women kidnapped during the church service at Haske Baptist Church in the village of Manini in the area. local government agency in Chikun, according to United Chrisitan Solidarity Worldwide, a UK-based human rights organization.

Sources say heavily armed men killed health worker Zacharia Dogon Yaro and injured Shehu Haruna.

Government officials confirmed the attacks.

“The preliminary investigation carried out so far has revealed that four people are missing, suggesting that they may have been kidnapped by thugs,” police command spokesperson Mohammed Jalige said. to the Nigerian media.

“Two others were shot and wounded, namely; Dr Zakariya Doga Yaro, Kaduna State Ministry of Health staff member attached to Rimi Village Primary Health Care Center, Udawa, Chikun LGA and Shehu Haruna. “

Khataza Gondwe, CSW’s advocacy manager in the organization’s Nigeria office, told the Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday that the danger of attacks and kidnappings has grown in Nigeria.

“The kidnappers have expanded their operations to the point that everyone, every civilian now feels like prisoners because they are afraid when driving outside towns and villages,” Gondwe said. “Once on an open road, they are susceptible to kidnapping. … Armed men can emerge [from] the bush and take people away, leave the cars behind. At the moment, this kind of kidnapping is getting closer and closer to the cities.

Militant groups threaten everyone, Gondwe said, but Christians are “particularly mistreated” depending on the identity of the kidnappers.

“If Christians fall into the hands of armed groups that have extremist religious ideology, then the danger is definitely increased,” Gondwe explained.

A source told CSW that the kidnappers are expanding their activities, especially in rural areas.

“We are like prisoners. We can hardly get out of town. Once you’re on the road, your heart is in your mouth until you reach your destination, ”the source told CSW.

Kidnappers often kidnap for ransom, which has become a lucrative industry in Nigeria.

After years of effective non-intervention by the authorities, the danger is now widespread. Gondwe said the attacks started around 2011 and escalated in 2015 when the current administration took control.

“Nothing has been done to remedy this, and now these armed attackers are attacking everyone,” Gondwe said. “They developed a taste for money, violence and power, and everyone is now endangered by these people. Yes, Christians are the main targets, and they continue to be the main targets, but now this violence is affecting all communities, and the security situation is really very bad.

Gondwe said mitigation of the attackers’ attacks had been overlooked by the federal government, which could have prevented the prevalence of violence. The government is suspected of being complicit or sympathetic towards the attackers, she said.

“[If the government was genuinely concerned about stopping it], it should have been stopped long ago, ”Gondwe said. “If he had been arrested at the stage where he was spiraling out of control, in terms of the sustained attacks in the predominantly Christian south of Kaduna, we might not have these problems now.”

Kaduna state, where the kidnapping and Sunday raid took place, has become an “epicenter” of kidnappings and mass kidnappings despite 11 military installations in the state. This trend has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of people in southern Kaduna, she said.

“Alarms have been raised repeatedly about the very worrying situation in Kaduna State for several years. Yet state government, federal authorities and members of the international community still seem reluctant to make meaningful interventions, ”CSW Founding Chairman Mervyn Thomas said in a statement. “We once again call on Nigeria to urgently address the kidnapping crisis, ensuring those responsible are brought to justice.

In the past week alone, Kaduna State has suffered multiple attacks and kidnappings.

On April 20, assailants raided a private university in Kaduna state and abducted around 20 students and three staff, killing some, CSW reported.

In addition, on April 20, Fulani militiamen allegedly raided a village and kidnapped nearly 70 people.

On April 21, gunmen attacked a hospital and abducted nurses despite its proximity to a military checkpoint.

On April 23, gunmen reportedly attacked the Unguwan mission, kidnapping eight people, including a Seventh-day Adventist church leader.

On April 26, CSW reported that armed men raided a housing estate in Kaduna state and kidnapped two women for ransom.

Nigeria’s Kaduna State branch of the Baptist Conference recorded around 35 members who were killed and 145 others kidnapped in this year alone, The News Nigeria reported.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, ranks 9th on Open Door’s global watch list for Christian persecution around the world due to an “extreme” level of Islamic oppression.

The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria third among the countries most affected by terrorism. He reports that from 2001 to 2019, there were more than 22,000 killed by acts of terror.

Boko Haram, militant Hausa-Fulani Muslim shepherds, ISWAP (a subsidiary of the Islamic State group) and other Islamic extremist groups are often responsible for the violent attacks against Christians.

Last December, Nigeria became the first democratic nation to be added to the US State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act for engaging in “systematic violations, continuous and flagrantly tolerated freedom of religion ”.

In its 2021 report, the US Commission on International and Religious Freedom warned that Nigeria “will move relentlessly toward Christian genocide” if no action is taken.

Gondwe said the situation in Nigeria requires urgent attention before it becomes more difficult to contain, but the “security vacuum” in Nigeria is currently not being addressed.

“The whole country is really quite unstable at the moment and that’s worrying,” Gondwe added. “Given the strategic importance of Nigeria, for the sake of Nigerian civilians, the region and the continent, this situation should really be high on the international agenda, I think, before it becomes something that cannot be easily managed. “

A lack of coverage and awareness across the world is part of what allows the problem in Nigeria to seemingly unchecked.

“Because these events are happening almost under cover of obscurity in terms of international media, as no Western media is there to consistently cover this violence or even when it does occur, it can go on without receiving it. ‘much needed international attention,’ Gondwe said.

“And this will continue until something major happens that the international community can no longer ignore, which will be very unfortunate,” she continued. “I think that lack of coverage is one of the issues.”

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