09/21/2016 Washington, D.C.
(International Christian Concern
) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Boko Haram insurgents killed at least eight Christians in an attack on Kwamjilari village, located in Nigeria’s turbulent northeastern state of Borno. According to reports, the Christians were killed while returning home from church on Sunday, September 18, suggesting that Boko Haram targeted these individuals because of their Christian faith.
Boko Haram insurgents first attacked Kwamjilari by firing randomly into a crowd of Christians leaving church, reportedly killing eight. The insurgents then burned a pile of newly harvested maize, effectively ruining the villagers’ harvest.
The Kwamjilari attack aligns with a new Boko Haram strategy announced by Abu Musab al-Barnawi in August. In that announcement, which was published in the Islamic State’s Al-Naba magazine, al-Barnawi called for the destruction of Christians in Nigeria by saying Boko Haram would begin “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the cross.”
“The government security forces do not go into the interior where the terrorists’ enclaves are,” Yakubu, a local resident of Kwamjilari, told ICC. “We feel we are just being deceived by the government. Our villages are still at high risk as another village was also attacked the same day.”
Due to the attack, villagers from Kwamjilari fled to Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped approximately 300 girls in 2014. The exact death toll from the attack on Kwamjilari is still unknown as some villagers remain missing. Boko Haram followed Sunday morning’s attack with an assault on a civilian commuter convoy and beheaded the chief and chief’s son in Tallari village, also located in Nigeria’s northeast, on Monday morning.
While the convoy was not explicitly Christian, its route transports civilians from the primarily Christian areas of Maiduguri to Chibok. Reports have confirmed that members of the EYN Church in Nigeria were in the convoy, but they managed to escape unharmed.
The Nigerian government has recorded notable military victories over Boko Haram recently, however, the insurgents continue to spread terror among Nigerians with an increasing number of surprise suicide bombings. The famine-like conditions in Nigeria also mitigate the government’s success against Boko Haram for many citizens. Although Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians to date, al-Barnawi’s public commitment to targeting Christians appears to have shifted Boko Haram’s strategy which will continue until Boko Haram has been completely defeated.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are deeply concerned for the protection of our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria. With al-Barnawi’s declaration of war against Christians in Nigeria and these recent attacks, Nigerian Christians face a grim and violent future. While ICC applauds the continued military defeat of Boko Haram, we also urge the Nigerian government to take steps to protect vulnerable Christian communities. Many Christians displaced by Boko Haram are considering returning to their home villages. Unless the government can guarantee these Christians security, they will either remain in IDP camps or risk being killed in the next Boko Haram attack.”