Islamic extremists believed to be affiliated with Boko Haram reportedly killed several Christians, including a pastor, and kidnapped several others in an attack carried out in Nigeria’s conflict-ridden northeast earlier this week.
According to The Associated Press, the insurgents killed at least 12 people in the attack on the Takulashi village near Chibok in Borno state on Sunday morning. The militants are also said to have abducted nine women and young girls.
Sources who spoke with Morning Star News, a nonprofit news organization that covers global Christian persecution, reported that all 12 people killed in the incident were Christians.
One of the deceased victims was the pastor of a church belonging to the Church of Christ in Nations denomination.
“They also burned down houses and looted food items from our houses,” area resident Ishaku Musa told the outlet. “At the end of the shootings and looting, which lasted about two hours, 12 of our people in the community were killed, three women were kidnapped and also four children were abducted by the Boko Haram attackers.”
Musa explained that the gunmen arrived in the village in six gun-trucks and three other heavy-duty vehicles. The militants reportedly fired their weapons indiscriminately.
Residents in the area are accusing the original Boko Haram faction, led by Abubakar Shekau, of carrying out the attack.
The group, which has carried out several deadly attacks on villages in Nigeria’s northeast over the last several years, is not to be confused with the breakaway faction Islamic State West Africa Province, which also operates in the Lake Chad region.
The attack occurred less than 15 miles away from where Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls from a government school in Chibok in April 2014, an abduction that garnered international attention. While some of the abducted Chibok students have been freed, over 100 remain missing.
Uba Kolo, a member of the local Civilian Joint Task Force vigilante group, told The AP that the militants involved in Sunday's attack killed males and abducted females.
The Rev. Zakariya Musa of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, told Morning Star News that nine of the 12 killed were members of his church and one was the pastor of the village’s Church of Christ in Nations congregation. According to Musa, the other two who were killed were “vigilantes” from within the Christian community.
Abwaku Kabu, the leader of a local government-backed militia, confirmed to Defense Post the death of two of its members who engaged in the gunfight against the terrorists.
According to Kabu, two trucks of vigilante fighters came to defend the village but were outnumbered by the militants.
Ayuba Alamson, a Chibok community leader, estimated that about 70 homes were burned as a result of the insurgent raid.
Boko Haram is one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups as it has engaged in its insurgency in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region for over a decade. The group has killed and abducted thousands of people over the years.
The United Nations estimates that over 3.4 million people in Nigeria have been displaced due to the Islamic extremist violence in the northeast and violence in the country’s Middle Belt carried out by radicals from the herding community. The U.N.’s tally includes 2.7 million people who have been displaced because of extremist violence in the country’s northeast.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA. It was also added to the U.S. State Department's “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.
Civil society organizations have warned that tens of thousands of people have been killed in Nigeria over the last two decades. Some international groups have warned that the violence against Christians in Nigeria might be rising to the level of “genocide.”
As far as Boko Haram goes, Borno state Gov. Babagana Umara Zulum said earlier this year that Boko Haram’s attacks over the years have created 59,311 orphans and 59,123 widows.
A Nigerian official said Tuesday that the country’s Army killed at least 75 Boko Haram terrorists during clearing operations in the last month in Borno. Additionally, troops captured six gun trucks, four anti-aircraft guns and other weapons.