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Nigeria

Attacks against Christian communities in Nigeria have continued into the new year, following a co-ordinated massacre of civilians over Christmas.

Please pray for your brothers and sisters as a matter of urgency. Join with others in prayer if you can. Your intercession is desperately needed – there are prayer points at the end of this alert that you can use to guide you.

Our partners said 238 people were killed in attacks by Fulani militants between December 23 and 30 and more had been killed since. The governor of Plateau state has declared a week of prayer and mourning. 

The Christmas massacres were among the worst ever against the Christian community in Nigeria. Those attacks, which drove 20,000 from their homes, are continuing in Borno and Kaduna states.

Attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on January 4 claimed the lives of a pastor and at least six members of his church.

Other assaults by Boko Haram and Fulani terrorists in Borno and Kaduna have taken a further 50 lives, according to our partner.

The Stefanos Foundation said the attacks were part of a concerted plan to provoke religious conflict across several states. Stefanos was alerting villagers by text of intelligence of impending attacks and providing trauma counselling for victims.

The latest spate of attacks began on December 23 and escalated on Christmas Eve. Our partner interviewed an eyewitness, the Rev Gideon Dawel, a District Overseer of Christ’s Apostolic Church, whose wife and five daughters were killed in the attack in Kambarpelli.

He said he heard the attackers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is greater). They were led by militants with guns, followed by fighters with machetes and others who set fire to houses. The attack continued until daybreak.

When Rev Dawel was able to return to his house, it had been burnt down and his grain store was still alight. His wife and five daughters were dead in the ashes of their home.

Another pastor told our partner that he had spoken to a woman who had been grazed by a bullet but had played dead. The woman said she recognised the gunman as her Fulani Muslim neighbour who used to employ her as a cook. He examined her as she lay motionless, to see if she was dead, then went after her husband and hacked him to death with a machete. Other villagers said they recognised the attackers as Fulani who had lived nearby.

These latest attacks have decimated the population of more than 40 villages. In June 2018, a similar attack took place in the same area, killing 233 people and displacing thousands.

Now as then, our partners said security services were thinly spread and ineffective, while locally organised protection teams who had banded together to try to repel the attack were outgunned and overwhelmed.

‘Nigerian Christians have been killed continuously for decades around Riyom and Barkin Ladi [in Plateau state],’ said our partner. ‘All security efforts have failed. This is terrorism. This is religious cleansing by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen who believe in religious war. This is an Islamic jihad. And intelligence shows that the assailants are bent on continuing their havoc.’

PRAY

  • Pray for strength for Christians in Nigeria who have suffered intense persecution at the hands of terrorists for many years

  • Ask God to comfort those bereaved and traumatised by these latest acts of terror

  • Pray that the perpetrators would come to repentance and put down their weapons

  • Pray that the international community and the worldwide media would wake up to the terrible violence that is being perpetrated against Christians in northern and central Nigeria

  • Ask God to strengthen our partners as they work to help all those affected by these attacks and thank God for their willingness to put their own lives at risk to help the persecuted

  • Pray that the Nigerian authorities would finally take sufficient action to protect vulnerable Christians

  • Pray that governments around the world would use their influence to help bring an end to this decades-old killing of Christians.

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