Date:  January 25, 2022

Two church buildings burned in attack in Chibok area, Borno state.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent

Borno state Nigeria. Uwe Dedering Creative Commons 768x591

Borno state, Nigeria. (Profoss derivative, original Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Four Christians were killed and 22 girls kidnapped in Islamic extremist attacks on Thursday (Jan. 20) and Jan. 14 in the Chibok area of Borno state, Nigeria, sources said.

Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists on Thursday (Jan. 20) attacked Pemi village, killing a Christian identified as Blan Gutto, kidnapping 17 Christian girls ages 10 to 13 and burning down a Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) building, said area resident James Nkeki. They also burned the shop of Ayuba Bulus, also a Christian, he said.

“One of the girls kidnapped I know in person is Miss Roya Joel,” Nkeki said. “More than two dozen houses were burned down, and I must say that these attacks on our communities are getting out of hand. We need your prayers for God’s deliverance from these forces of evil.”

In nearby Kautikari on Jan. 14, ISWAP militants killed three Christians and kidnapped five Christian girls, area residents said. The terrorists also burned down the village’s EYN worship building.

Area resident Victoria Dunga identified the Christians killed as Joseph Sangula, Ayal Yerima Kau and Friday Abdu. She said the five kidnapped girls were Naomi Titus, Lami Yirma, Hauwa Gwarabutu and two sisters, Rahap and Saratu Born.

“Burning down our churches will not stop us from worshipping God,” Dunga said in a text message.

Area resident Blessing Bulama echoed the sentiment.

“These attacks on us by Muslim terrorists will never stop us from worshipping the Lord, because the Christ in us is not the church buildings they destroy,” she told Morning Star News in a text message.

An Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram in 2016 formally aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), though many Nigerians still refer to the Shekau-led faction of ISWAP by its original name, Boko Haram. The Islamic State recognizes the ISWAP faction that broke away from Shekau as its cell in the region, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

On Dec. 19 in Borno state’s predominantly Christian village of Kilangal, Askira-Uba County, ISWAP militants killed 12 Christians in an attack shortly after residents left church worship services, area residents told Morning Star News. On Sept. 24 in Pemi village, ISWAP terrorists kidnapped 15 Christian girls and destroyed the local EYN church building.

Pemi village was also attacked by ISWAP terrorists in December 2020, and an EYN pastor, the Rev. Bulus Yukura, was kidnapped.

Residents report that Chibok Christians have been attacked more than 100 times since the April 14, 2014 abduction of more than 276 Christian high school girls. About 100 of the girls remain in captivity.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.