Nigerian Archbishop: Generations Wiped Out by Mass Attacks

The Nigerian Anglican archbishop, who oversees the area where more than 500 people were recently killed, grieved over the history lost and said people need to understand the sacredness of human life.

"Some of these communities may never again be recognized in history because generations have been wiped out," said the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria, in a statement.

"Hundreds of corpses of men, women, children and grandchildren littered the burned houses, roads, bush paths, farm areas and hiding places," he said.

This past weekend, two predominantly Christian villages in the Jos area were attacked by machete-wielding Muslim extremists. At a superficial level the violence appears to be religiously motivated. Some say the most recent violence is revenge for the attacks on Muslims in January.

But local experts say the conflict is also fueled by competition over resources, land, and jobs in the poverty-stricken area.

"Is there no other way by which matters can be resolved except through this sadistic and cruel way of making peoples' lives miserable?" Kwashi asked. "For me, as a Christian, human life is so sacred that no one, absolutely no one, should tamper with it, no matter what religious faith you belong to."

The Nigerian archbishop said people need to be taught that human life is sacred because it is a gift from God.

Pope Benedict XVI added his voice Wednesday to the international outcry against the slaughter.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church described the violence as "atrocious" and called on leaders "to work towards security and peaceful co-existence."

"Violence does not resolve conflicts but only increases the tragic consequences," he said.

Some 8,000 Nigerians have also been displaced in the Jos area because of the conflict, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Archbishop Kwashi and villagers have strongly criticized the government's inaction during the massacre. Kwashi said there was an enforced curfew in the area, but wonders why no security was available to prevent the violence from occurring.

Open Doors USA president/CEO Carl Moeller said violence against Christians in the Jos area has increased since the beginning of the year.

"Please pray with me for peace to come to this region of Nigeria," Moeller said. "Pray that the violence will not spread. And pray for wisdom for acting President Goodluck Jonathan."

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is about evenly split between Muslims and Christians.

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