Nigerian pastor ‘macheted to death,’ body found by search party

A Christian Adara woman prays while attending the Sunday's service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna state, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019. | LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images

Unknown assailants in Nigeria’s Kaduna State “macheted to death” a pastor from the Evangelical Church of Winning All whose body was later found by a search party, as the troubling trend of deadly attacks on Christians carry on unabated in that country, according to a report.

The slain pastor has been identified as the Rev. Silas Ali of ECWA in Kaduna State’s Zango Kataf Local Government Area who left his home to go to Kafanchan area on Saturday, Nigeria’s Punch news outlet first reported Sunday.

Ali was apparently attacked around Kibori community, near Asha-Awuce area, where a search party discovered his body that was described as having been macheted to death.

Kaduna State’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the pastor’s murder, saying security agencies had started an investigation.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai described the killing as cruel and sent his condolences to the pastor’s family and the ECWA Church, The Guardian Nigeria reported. 

While the assailants have not been identified, thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria — Christians are killed by radicalized Fulani herders in the farming-rich Middle Belt of Nigeria and by Islamic extremists in the country’s northeast.

In July, a civil society group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, or Intersociety, released a report estimating that at least 3,462 Christians had been killed and at least 3,000 Christians had been abducted in just 200 days. The report also estimates that no fewer than 300 churches and 10 priests had been attacked.

Many have accused the Nigerian government of inadequately responding to protect its citizens. 

“The Nigerian Government has continued to face sharp criticisms and strong accusations of culpability and complicity in the killings and supervision of same,” Intersociety said in the report. “The country’s security forces have so fumbled and compromised that they hardly intervene when the vulnerable Christians are in danger of threats or attacks, but only emerge after such attacks to arrest and frame up the same population threatened or attacked.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is ranked No. 9 on Open Door’s 2021 World Watch List for Christian persecution worldwide due to an “extreme” level of Islamic oppression.

Jihadi attacks in West Africa have been on the rise since the beginning of 2021, and Nigeria is targeted more than any country in the region, the United States-based Christian persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reports

Islamic terrorist groups have killed thousands in the region in recent years as they seek to impose a caliphate and Islamic Sharia law.

“Christians have been specifically targeted and disproportionately been affected by this violence. … The responses by the government are clearly not enough, since perpetrators of such violence are able to continue attacking Christians, and other Nigerians, with impunity,” Illia Djadi, Open Doors senior analyst on freedom of religion and belief in sub-Saharan Africa, said, according to ICC.

The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the third country most affected by terrorism in the world. It reports that from 2001 to 2019, over 22,000 were killed by acts of terror.

Mark Jacob, a Nigerian barrister, and former Attorney General of Kaduna State, said last month that “selected killings of Christians, particularly in the ‘Middle Belt’ region of Nigeria” had been going on, and he “has been part of several mass burials” of Christians.

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