Clashes between warring tribes and a jihad being waged by Islamic militants have Christians in Nigeria shutting down churches and fleeing for their lives.
Among those killed in the latest spate of violence were four Christians, according to Christian Aid Mission (CAM). Also, “entire villages have been burned, including the homes of 25 native Christians,” CAM told Worthy News in a statement.
CAM claims that over 1,000 people have fled their homes in Abuja and have headed for the nearby state capital Jalingo. Some Nigerians have taken refuge in the city's Jolly Nyame Stadium, while hundreds are hiding in a government-run secondary school, reports Worthy News.
The missions group believes a clash over land between the Kona and Mumuye tribes is responsible for the unrest.
Meanwhile, an Islamic militant group known as Boko Haram, has turned its sights on Christians in another part of the region, according to BosNewsLife.
The group, which wants to overthrow the Nigerian government and make Sharia the law of the land, has been attacking Christians for the past few months.
One church recently attacked in an area just north of Abuja belongs to the Evangelical Church Winning All. Members of the local church were holding a prayer meeting last Monday when a bomb was thrown onto the premises. Fortunately, the explosive device only damaged the walls of the church building.
That attack came just one day after a bomb attack on the All Christian-Fellowship Mission in Suleja. In that incident, according to the news agency, at least three people were killed and three others injured in the explosion. The group had been conducting a committee meeting.
These attacks have prompted some leaders to shut down their churches, while others are hoping to confuse the militants by changing their worship times.
“As you can see, the town is unsafe, and it is just appropriate for any church leader to be reasonable and safe,” a pastor with The Apostolic Church told Compass News. “We took the decision to hold a one-and-a-half-hour service earlier than our usual time so that our people can return home in time because of the threat.”
The Boko Haram militants have attacked at least a dozen other places of worship, including St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Maiduguri. During the attack on June 7, about 50 members were gathered inside.
According to a report by BBC News, three people outside the church were killed. In that incident, police arrested 14 men in connection with the crimes.
The militants posted a message online recently, promising that more attacks were forthcoming, as some of their members have completed special training in Somalia.
Church leaders told Compass News Direct that they are aware that the Islamic sect could be an offshoot of Al Qaida and are urging Nigerian security agencies to step up their enforcement.