At least 12 Christians have been killed and another 20 injured in Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria in retaliation for believers' attempts to rescue Christian girls from forced Islamic conversions.
Morning Star News reported on Tuesday that radical Muslims hunted down Christians and burned down their homes after they had attempted to rescue two girls who were kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam two weeks ago.
"The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town," said James Madaki of the Evangelical Church Winning All.
The victims also included members of Pentecostal, Baptist, Assemblies of God and Seventh-day Adventist churches in the town.
"The case was reported to the police, and the girls were not rescued, so some Christians decided to rescue the girls, but the Muslims in the town attacked them," Madaki explained.
"The Muslims did not just attack the Christians that went to rescue the girls, but also went around town attacking Christians they sighted and burned houses belonging to Christians."
Omega Funom, another Kasuwan Magani resident, confirmed that the violence came as a result of the girls' kidnapping.
"This is the practice by Muslims in Kaduna state. They abduct small Christian girls and force them to become Muslims, and when Christians reject this, they attack them to create the impression that there's a religious crisis," Funom said, adding that the Muslims were armed with AK-47 guns.
The Rev. John Hayap, spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria, Northern Nigeria Chapter, said that the Nigerian government has failed to step up in several cases of forced conversions carried out by Muslims.
"I feel very sad about such violence on Christians, but what more can we do than to pray and ask for God's intervention. We'll continue to preach peace and tolerance in our churches no matter the level of provocation from our Muslim neighbors," Hayap said.
AFP separately reported that 13 people have died in what police have said are clashes between Christian and Muslim youths.
"The mayhem led to the death of 13 people with many houses and shops burned," Kaduna state police commissioner Austin Iwar said.
Twenty suspects connected to the violence have since been arrested, with police and troops sent to the area to restore peace.
Iwar said that there are conflicting stories behind what sparked the violence.
"We don't want to jump into conclusion as to what led to the mayhem. The speculation was that some Christian boys were not happy that their girls are befriending Muslim boys," he added, though the description does not correlate with Christians' accounts.
The country is also reeling from the latest mass kidnapping of schoolgirls by Islamic radical group Boko Haram. The terrorists kidnapped 110 students from the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, leaving parents bereaved.