By BosNewsLife Africa Service with additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and Joseph DeCaro
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Nigeria’s restive north faced the prospect of more violence Friday, January, 4, as Islamic militants stepped up attacks that killed dozens of people, most of them Christians, since Christmas.
In one of the latest incidents confirmed Friday, January 4, about 100 gunmen overran a police headquarters and a government building in the town of Song, in Adamawa state, police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim told reporters.
The militants set both buildings on fire in Thursday’s violence, Ibrahim said. Fire reportedly spread to a house near the police station, where a 64-year-old woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter died. A soldier and a police official were also killed, according to police investigators.
It came shortly after authorities claimed fighting between Nigerian government forces and the Boko Haram group in killed 13 suspected militants on New Year’s Day.
The Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order also lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.
‘WESTERN EDUCATION SIN’
Boko Haram, which means ‘Western education is a sin’, has taken the lives of at least 38 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians, officials said.
On Christmas Eve, attackers raided two churches, killing 12 people in the northern Nigerian state of Yobe.
The Evangelical Church of West Africa in Peri village near Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe, was also set on fire in the attack, witnesses said.
In another attack that night, worshipers at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri were reportedly shot by unknown gunman, leaving a deacon and five of his congregation dead
Six days later, suspected Boko Haram fighters killed at least 15 Christian worshipers, slitting some of their throats, in Musari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, where the Islamic militants are based, according to Nigerian authorities.
“CHRISTIANS TO PERSEVERE”
“It has really been terrible,” said Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Archbishop of the volatile city of Jos. “We cannot be overcome by fear and the violence of these evil people,” he told Vatican Radio in an interview.
He said the Christians of Nigeria will persevere. “Their aim [of the Islamic militants] is to succeed to destroy the Christian faith, and we are convinced this is not possible, because our faith is a gift from God,” he added.
The U.S. State Department has accused Boko Haram of attacking mosques and churches to create tensions between the two religious groups.
The State Department has also condemned some of the group’s leaders for their alleged ties to the al-Qaida terror network.
Boko Haram, which fights for a strict Islamic state, has killed over 2,800 people since launching its violent campaign in 2009, according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
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