At Least Eight Slain in Attack on Christian Area of Nigeria

Homes burned down in assault by Islamic extremists. 

Borno state, Nigeria. (Profoss derivative, original Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

Borno state, Nigeria. (Profoss derivative, original Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – At least eight people were killed in an attack on Tuesday evening (May 3) by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists on a predominantly Christian village in northeastern Nigeria, sources said.

In the latest of several attacks by the Islamic extremists on Christian communities in Chibok County, Borno state, ISWAP militants stormed Kautikari town after 6 p.m., not only shooting people dead but looting properties and destroying many homes, area residents said.

“Kautikari community is right now being attacked by ISWAP (Boko Haram) terrorists,” area resident Musa Nkeki told Morning Star News in a text message. “Your prayer is urgently needed for God’s intervention.”

Resident Yohanna Daniel also texted Morning Star News, saying, “We need security intervention please, before it is too late.”

The two residents said hundreds of residents had fled the area. Daniel identified the slain as Yanta Ali, Mallum Dzakwa, Dawi Pogu, Lado Manu, Joshu’a Sanda, Tabji Mutah, Albert Tabji and Ngwaksa Aboku.

Local sources told the Daily Trust newspaper that eight bodies had been recovered, that many people were still missing and that the assailants had burned down a military base.

Nkeki told Morning Star News that this was the second attack in the Chibok area in less than a month, as ISWAP terrorists on April 18 attacked Yimirmugza village, abducting six Christians.

“They shot sporadically on anyone in sight, thereby forcing all Christian residents to flee for their lives,” Nkeki said. “At the end of the attack, the terrorists killed a Christian by the name of Godwin Isa’ac and abducted six girls.”

He identified the six kidnapped girls as Christiana Fali, Rhoda Fali, Hannatu Fali and Lydia Fali, all from one family, and Asabe Sunday and Rifkatu John.

The terrorists also carted away livestock, food and valuable items, he said.

On Feb. 25, suspected ISWAP terrorists killed three Christians in an attack on Kautikari and destroyed a church building. Kautikari was also attacked in mid-January, when 24 Christian women and children were captured and taken into captivity, and a worship auditorium of a local congregation was also damaged. Three persons were said to have been killed and many houses and church buildings burned.

ISWAP attacked another Chibok town, Piyemi, on Jan. 20, with 19 people, mostly girls, abducted and a vigilante leader beheaded.

Chibok leaders have reported that their communities have been attacked more than 72 times since the 2014 kidnapping of 276 public high school girls in the predominantly Christian area. After eight years in which 57 girls escaped on their own and others were released, 110 of the girls remain in captivity, according a report released in late January by the Chibok Area Development Association.

ISWAP broke off from Boko Haram in 2016. An Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram in 2016 formally aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), though many Nigerians still refer to the Shekau-led faction of ISWAP by its original name, Boko Haram. The Islamic State recognizes the ISWAP faction that broke away from Shekau as its cell in the region, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

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