MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (BP)--Twelve Christians, including three pastors, were killed and 20 churches were demolished in Nigeria amid escalating religiously motivated violence, prompting a call for government intervention.
Conflicts between Christians and Muslims have gone largely unchecked by the Nigerian government, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom this year placed the African nation on its list of "countries of particular concern."
International Christian Concern, a U.S.-based human rights group, is asking people to sign a petition calling on Nigerian officials to bring perpetrators to justice and work to prevent further attacks. The petition is accessible at persecution.org/suffering/petitions. ICC also is asking concerned citizens to contact the Nigerian Embassy in Washington at 202-986-8400.
In a report Aug. 6, ICC said the attacks that occurred July 26 in Maiduguri were instigated by Boko Haram, a group that opposes Western education and fights to impose sharia law throughout Nigeria, including areas that are largely Christian.
Sabo Yakubu, a husband, father of seven and pastor of a Church of Christ congregation, was hacked to death by a machete, ICC said. Also killed were Sylvester Akpan, pastor of National Evangelical Mission, and George Orji, pastor of Good News of Christ Church.
"Mohammed Yusuf, the Islamic sect leader who initially said their targets were government property and security agencies, later changed and started setting ablaze churches and killing pastors who had nothing to do with their activities," Yuguda Zubagai Ndurvuwa, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said in a statement reported by ICC.
In the fighting, 700 people including police, Islamic militants and civilians were killed. In the city of Potiskum, Islamists attacked First Baptist Church and Church of the Brethren, burning musical instruments and sound systems before being chased away by police, ICC said. Read More