By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Nigerian missionaries and other Christians were reportedly trapped Wednesday, June 20, in what they called a “war zone” as an Islamic group went on a killing spree in northern Nigeria, targeting churches and other sites.
“Terrorists” of Boko Haram, which means ‘Western Education is a Sin’ “have struck again,” said a missionary in a message sent by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM) group to BosNewsLife.
The missionary spoke on condition of anonymity citing security concerns as Christian workers were allegedly “threatened” and at least dozens of people died when Boko Haram bombed three churches Sunday, June 17, in cities Kaduna and Zaria, as well as in reprisal attacks.
“This time we had to evacuate our missionaries from Kandawa fields as Muslim militants discovered the work and threatened them,” the missionary explained. However, “Right now we need your prayers as Chris, the overseer of all ministry work in the northern Islamic area, is still trapped in the fields with several missionaries, some with infants.”
The missionary said, “A 24 hour curfew has been declared [in the area] and we do not know how to reach the converts in the war zone.”
Christian workers and converts, the missionary added, “need prayers” and “funds to buy mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets.” There is also need for “food for our converts that are about to move out” from the predominantly Islamic region, the missionary explained.
“We need to relocate quickly. I am currently in [the capital] Abuja and will go to Kebbi state to rescue our staff as soon as possible…But there is no [possibility to] go in or out of the area for now. We want to be ready immediately when they can escape with their converts,” the missionary said.
CAM Africa Director Rae Burnett told BosNewsLife that her U.S.-based group has been able to purchase land and was searching for $35,000 to provide “a simple headquarters building where the [mission] leader and staff would also live.”
Boko Haram “increasingly terrorizes Nigeria with the stated purpose of establishing [a state based on] Sharia,” said Burnett, who is often in the area.
Christian missionaries and church leaders have expressed frustration about what they view as the government’s reluctance to provide security to Christians.
President Goodluck Jonathan has denied wrongdoing and pledged to increase security while also urging all Nigerians to unite for peace.
Churches have been increasingly targeted by violence in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people.
Earlier this year, an Easter Day blast in Kaduna left at least 38 people dead. A Christmas Day suicide bombing of a Catholic church in Madalla near Nigeria’s capital killed at least 44 people.