Nigerian Christians call for improved security after persistent attacks

(REUTERS / Stringer)Residents watch as two men walk amidst rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik, west of Borno State capital Maiduguri September 19, 2013. Islamist Boko Haram militants killed 159 people in two roadside attacks in northeast Nigeria this week, officials said, far more than was originally reported and a sign that a four-month-old army offensive has yet to stabilise the region. Picture taken September 19, 2013.

Christians are demanding improved security after an armed gang recently attacked a train in northern Nigeria, killing eight people, injuring two dozen more and abducting some of the 400 passengers.

The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State Rev. John Joseph Hayab, a Catholic priest, said the call was made after the March 28 attack, The Tablet reported.

The latest attack adds to unceasing and increasing attacks on Christians from Islamist organizations or other groups working with them.

The train derailed after the tracks were bombed and gunmen opened fire. Nigerians are increasingly outraged over the country's worsening security situation.

Release International, that works for persecuted Christians, reported on March 25 about an earlier attack by Islamist militants that left more than 30 people dead.

The Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria said then that Christians were grieving "the continued killings, kidnappings, banditry and the unimaginable evil going on in our state unabated, without any substantial action by the government and security forces."

Kidnapping for ransom has increased with three priests taken in March. At least 536 Nigerians were killed by terrorists in the first three months of 2022, many of the attacks taking place in the north of the country.

Groups such as Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) operate in different parts on the northern region.

Boko Haram militants are conducting night-time raids on villages in Cameroon and killing all the men, according to a local priest.

Aid to the Church in Need reported on March 31 that Islamists "kill the fathers of the family and the teenagers, especially the boys, and then they pillage the family's property and destroy everything they can't carry off."

Families have abandoned their homes as the raiders take cereals, goats, sheep, poultry and clothing.

Release International said that two weeks ago it had asked for people to pray for Christians in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state after the 30 believers were killed by Islamist militants.

It said that the violence has continued, with another 50 murdered in the same state and 100 abducted with homes burned down.

According to Nigeria's Morning Star News (MSN) Fulani herdsmen killed around 50 believers in attacks on 10 predominantly Christian communities in Giwa county, Kaduna, on March 24.

Rev. Felix Zakari, was among around 100 taken captive. Locals reported that a church building as well as houses and stores had been burned down and animals killed.

Local resident Nuhu Musa told MSN by text message: "They didn't allow even the dead bodies to be buried, as they shot at mourners and those who returned to the villages to conduct funerals for those killed."

The latest report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has written a of religious freedom conditions in Nigeria deteriorating, "with both state and nonstate actors committing egregious violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.

"Despite Nigeria's constitution protecting freedom of religion and belief, Nigerian citizens faced violence by militant Islamists and other nonstate armed actors, as well as discrimination, arbitrary detentions, and capital blasphemy sentences by state authorities."

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