- (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)
As the attacks on Nigeria's Christians continued in full force this past week, a particularly grisly attack saw fifty believers burned to death at their pastor's home, where they had fled for refuge from a terrorist attack.
Reports disclosed that over 100 people were killed by armed terrorists this past week, who went on a 12-village killing spree in Nigeria's Plateau state. Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has once again taken responsibility for the assaults.
Different sources have shared various reports of the number of lost lives from last week's assault on Christians, which have been occurring on a weekly basis for many months in Nigeria. But a story last week by the Baptist Press confirmed that about 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the village of Maseh were burned alive after they took refuge in their pastor's house following a terrorist raid.
"Fifty of our church members were killed in the church building where they had fled to take refuge. They were killed alongside the wife of the pastor and children," said the Rev. Dachollom Datiri, vice president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, in a July 11 interview.
Officials from the church confirmed that over 100 members were killed through various villages in Nigeria, which included Maseh, Ninchah, Kakkuruk, Kuzen, Negon, Pwabiduk, Kai, Ngyo, Kura Falls, Dogo, Kufang, and Ruk.
"Nigeria is truly becoming the new killing field for Christians. Hundreds of Christians have already been brutally murdered – including women and children – by the Boko Haram," said Open Doors, USA spokesman Jerry Dykst. "The Boko Haram earlier this week said that all Christians need to turn to Islam or 'they would never know peace again.' Their goal is make all of Nigeria a country run and dominated by Shariah law."
Some Nigerian security officials have claimed that Muslim Fulani tribesmen, who populate the Plateau State, could have aided Boko Haram in their bid to get rid of Christians from the North and establish Islamic dominance over all of Nigeria.
"I don't think that Boko Haram could, out of nowhere, have raided these villages. They couldn't do that without local support and collaboration," said Nigerian criminal justice consultant Innocent Chukwuma.
"Attacks on Christian villages are not new in Plateau State, as Fulani tribesmen are known to have raided Christian communities in the past," further explained Heritage Foundation Africa analyst Morgan Roach.
"Should Boko Haram be responsible, this would deviate from its past tactics, which have tended to be more sophisticated," he added.
Nigeria's citizens have been critical of the government's response to the on-going attacks, and have called for more to be done to counter Boko Haram's terrorism activities.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has also called upon the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee for the U.S to officially declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization that the international community needs to battle against.
"This would be the equivalent of designating Bin Laden as a terrorist, but failing to designate al-Qaida as a terrorist organization," Ortisejafor told the committee in response to only select members of Boko Haram being branded as terrorists.
"There are certain Muslim extremists who believe that Nigeria must be an Islamic nation [and] Boko Haram is the body that is fronting for this group of persons… [Nigeria] has a very well divided population among the two major religions [Christianity and Islam], so it's not possible to Islamize Nigeria," the pastor added.