Over 60 members of Baptist church kidnapped in Nigeria

A Christian Adara woman prays while attending the Sunday's service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna state, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019.
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

Armed bandits in Nigeria’s Kaduna State kidnapped more than 60 worshipers during a church service and shot one Christian dead, according to reports, which also say Christian workers in the area have gone into hiding.

The gunmen stormed Emmanuel Baptist Church in Kakau Daji area in southern Kaduna last Sunday, the Christian ministry Open Doors reported, adding that the telecom networks were down at the time to help combat bandit activity.

“The church was unable to call for help, whilst the bandits have reportedly asked for a higher ransom because they had to travel farther for network service to contact the victims’ relations,” the ministry said.

The government claimed that it had tightened security in that locality, but the Rev. Joseph Haya, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria and a Baptist, said he disagreed and that the threat of more attacks remains. “We are seriously worried now. Gunmen are gradually approaching the township,” he was quoted as saying.

Haya told The Epoch Times that the Baptist church “is the worst hit church in this state.”

Catholic Herald reported that the number of those kidnapped could be more than 100 and that two worshipers had been critically injured. 

“This kidnapping is a shocking example of the audacity of the so-called bandits and the impunity that is escalating, seemingly without bounds in Nigeria,” said Jo Newhouse, spokesperson for Open Doors in sub-Saharan Africa. “The government is grossly failing its citizens in this matter and the continuing lawlessness is creating ideal breeding ground for extremism.”

In July, more than 140 students were abducted as they were scheduled to take their final exams at Bethel Baptist High School in the Chikun local government area in the same state.

The abductors promised the parents that their children would not starve if they provided rice, beans, palm oil, salt and stock cubes. They said a ransom demand would follow, Reuters reported at the time.

Terrorist groups with a foothold in the region, like Boko Haram, have carried out mass kidnappings in recent years, including kidnapping over 200 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014.

Dede Laugesen, the executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians, told The Christian Post in a previous interview that terrorists will often kidnap boys and brainwash them to become jihadis. 

Many Nigerians have raised concerns about what they perceive as the government’s inaction in holding terrorists accountable for the rising number of attacks and kidnappings.

In an earlier interview with CP, Emeka Umeagbalai of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, said kidnappings of Christians happen for various reasons.

Some terrorists, like Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province and radical Fulani militants are motivated by money, while others are motivated by Islamic radicalism.

Security analysts say kidnapping for ransom is becoming a lucrative industry in Nigeria. And weapons are becoming readily available to militants in Nigeria thanks to war-torn Libya.

Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA ranks Nigeria at No. 9 on its 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Nigeria is also recognized as a "country of particular concern" by the U.S. State Department for tolerating or engaging in severe violations of religious freedom. 

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