Nigeria (MNN) – Boko Haram attacks have significantly worsened in Northern Nigeria over the last three weeks. The United Nations said that over 30,000 people fled to Cameroon amid fears of renewed attacks by militants, following last week’s assault.
Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman describes Monday’s attack. “You had 60 people killed in that village of Rann up in Borno, which is in the northeast part of Nigeria, predominantly the Muslim north. You’ve got situations where these guys are coming in and they’re causing all havoc.”
When it comes to inspiring panic, these jihadists have established a fearsome reputation. This attack came two weeks after Boko Haram had overrun the same town, starting with a military base.
“The military was actually there, and when Boko Haram came to attack, they abandoned. This is supposedly a group (the Boko Haram) that has supposedly been defeated, according to the Nigerian government. Of course, that is not true.”
The extremists then set fire to the refugee camps nearby.
Boko Haram Defeated?
That incident came a day after a similar attempt to take over a separate military base not far from Borno’s capital, Maiduguri. It also calls into question the government’s claims, says Musselman. “You’ve got an election year in Nigeria and they are going to cause more trouble. The fact that they are supposedly defeated, they are saying ‘no, we’re not and we’re going to continue to raise havoc.’”
What’s more, Boko Haram is not only digging in, but they’re also expanding.
“They have a stronghold up in the North, but they’ve also been coming into the Middle Belt—that’s some of the areas that I’ve been recently in, talking to the Christians and the other s there that are feeling the attacks by the Boko Haram, and also the Fulani herdsmen. But their desire is to continue to go south and eventually, take the whole country.”
Could this armed extremist group succeed in making Nigeria an Islamic State? Musselman says they’ve already taken steps toward that possibility.
“In their mind, maybe they think it can. They’re also linking with groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, so they’re very dangerous. One of the things that I think people need to understand is that you cannot defeat an ideology. They may even change their name and become something else.”
There are also numerous splinter groups such as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a deadly group which broke away from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, vying for power. ISIS has also forged links with other militant groups across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Along the way, anyone who doesn’t agree with their purpose is at risk, he explains. “Just the fact that they are followers of Christ, they’re not Islamic. They are targeted, as are their Muslim neighbors if they would stand up for the Christians.”
As the pressure intensifies, so too, does the search for hope.
“The Gospel continues to make advances in Northern Nigeria. Many people are coming to know Jesus in a personal way, but this is a battle that is raging on. Sometimes, Christians are directly targeted, churches are burned down, (and) Christian businesses are destroyed.”
More Violence To Come
After a brief lull in attacks, Musselman expects a storm for Nigeria’s believers in the days ahead.
“This really is a spiritual battle. We have to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in situations like Nigeria, that God would just break in, in a strong way, and that these people who are opposing the Gospel would turn their hearts toward Jesus.”
To that end, VOM-Canada offers this prayer and invites you to join them:
May God minister great comfort and healing to all who have been injured or bereaved as a result of the militants’ brutal attacks. In addition, pray for the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls, that they will be assured of the Lord’s abiding presence as they await release from captivity. Continue to uphold President Buhari and other members of the Nigerian government as they make further attempts to rescue the remaining girls and provide protection for vulnerable citizens. As they persevere in their endeavors to overcome terrorism, may they be granted wisdom, courage, strength and help from on high.
Stock photo for headline courtesy Voice of the Martyrs Canada.