Persecution, violence increase in Northern Nigeria

By March 18, 2013

Nigeria (ODM) — Nigeria's hostage situation seems to have ended with the murder of all seven captives.

The newly-emerged Islamic sect Ansaru Islam confirmed killing the group kidnapped in Bauchi a month ago. They issued a statement in Arabic and English on an affiliate of the Sinam al-Islam network accompanied by screen shots of a video purportedly showing the dead hostages.

Ansaru Islam literally means "helpers" or figuratively, "Struggle for the cause of Allah." The name harkens back to a group of people who waged war for the cause of Islam. They are known for promoting a radical interpretation of Islam with a strict interpretation of Sharia. Their emergence in Nigeria likely means more attacks to rid the country of Christians or those perceived with connections to the West.

The grisly murders seem to underline that concern. "The Nigeria and British government (rescue) operation led to the death of all seven Christian foreigners," the statement claimed. Although Nigerian authorities say they were unable to confirm the deaths, it is understood that the countries of the victims have pronounced them dead.

While northerners in general bemoan the inability of the Nigerian government to bring the situation under control, Open Doors' work in the country is under immense pressure as violence against Christians continues.

The violence includes the killing of 13 factory workers identified as Christians on Feb. 22 in Kano. According to sources, the Muslims confronted the Christians about the reason they were not attending Muslim evening prayers. The men were then killed in front of women and children. Bishop Ransom Bello, CAN chairman in Kano, is accusing Kano state government of nonchalance over the incident. Pray for God's comfort to the traumatized families of the factory workers. Pray for justice to be served.

On March 10, gunmen on tricycles launched attacks at the Hotoro, Sharada, and Dakata areas of Kano, northwest Nigeria, killing three and injuring several other civilians as they were returning home after Sunday evening service before speeding off. Joint Task Force spokesman, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, said they have arrested four of the attackers. Pray for God's comfort to families affected by the killing.

On March 11, Christian leaders in Tudun Wada, Kano state, gathered at the site where their church was destroyed in 2007. They are planning to rebuild. During their visit they were confronted and threatened by Muslim youths who vowed to never allow the rebuilding of another church in Tudun Wada.

The leaders who wanted to report the incident to the local authorities were not allowed to enter the premises of the ministry in charge of complaints. The leaders called Open Doors asking for prayer in their situation. Pray for wisdom for these Christians as they respond and that justice will be done. Pray that the Lord will continue to build His Kingdom in Tudun Wada even if there are no physical buildings to gather.

It seems that the president could be a target, too. President Goodluck Jonathan is also purported to be a Christian. Last week, specialized members of the Nigerian Army (NA) in Maiduguri, Borno State, uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition hours after the president came through. Seven explosions occurred during his visit, which many fear were failed attempts on the president's life. Pray for peace in Northern Nigeria. Pray that the government will be able to bring the situation under control soon.

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