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Nigerian pastor, 16 worshipers kidnapped by gunmen who stormed choir practice Nigerian pastor, 16 worshipers kidnapped by gunmen who stormed choir practice

Worshippers demonstrate their faith during a church service in Nigeria. | (PHOTO: REUTERS)

An evangelical pastor, his daughter, and more than a dozen other churchgoers were reportedly abducted while one person was killed after a team of gunmen attacked villages in the troubled Kaduna state of Nigeria on Sunday.

According to Nnamdi Obasi of the International Crisis Group, Rev. Zakariah Ido, 11 girls and five men were abducted from an Evangelical Church Winning All congregation in the village of Dankande in the Birnin Gwari local government area in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He tweeted that sources claimed that as many as 20 gunmen were responsible for the attack.

The Nigerian online newspaper TheCable reported that the gunmen also impacted a village in the Igabi local government area of Kaduna.

“It was at about 12:30 midnight. We had combined choir practice in the church with other neighboring communities. We normally hold the combine choir practice from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m,” an unnamed witness told The Cable about the church attack in Dankande.

The source explained that the armed men surrounded the church and began shooting.

“Everybody was terrified but there was no how we could run because they had already surrounded the church,” the witness explained.

According to The Nation, among those abducted at the church are pastor Ido’s daughter and the son of an Assemblies of God pastor.

Pastor Nath Waziri, the district church council secretary, told The Nation that the gunmen asked everyone at the church to surrender their phones and demanded to know who the pastor was.

“After threatening the choristers they became afraid and showed them the pastor home,” Wazir was quoted as saying. “They took him away and his daughter with 15 others amongst which there is the son of the pastor of Assemblies of God Church.”

The Evangelical Church Winning All is one of the country’s largest Christian denominations with over 6,000 congregations.

While it hasn’t been confirmed who is responsible for the attack and abduction, ThisDaynewspaper spoke with an eyewitness who claimed that 30 Fulani extremists armed with guns and machetes were responsible for the attack in the village of Guguwa-Kwate in Igabi local government area.

”We are helpless because there is nothing we can do other than to report to the police when such incidents happened,” the eyewitness said. “We have no arms and we cannot stand them, we are just at their mercy because they are well armed and they always come in large numbers.”

The witness detailed how his nephew was killed by the gunmen during an attack on a home.

“They entered one house and were beating people,” the source said. “They kidnapped one man and a woman in the house.”

The witness added that it was the fifth time that gunmen had invaded their community.

“About two months ago, they abducted two people in the farm,” the witness said. “The other person was killed even after we paid them ransom.”

Christian farming communities throughout the middle belt of Nigeria have faced increasing attacks at the hands of Fulani extremists over the last couple of years with thousands being killed and countless homes and churches being destroyed.

In the last several months, the Kaduna state has been hit hard with Fulani violence. In March, the governor had to institute a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

While farmer-herder conflicts in the Middle Belt are nothing new, Christians in Nigeria say that the Fulani attacks have escalated in brutality and taken on a religious element in recent years.

“It is really simplifying catastrophic incidents in Nigeria by saying ‘herder-farmer conflict’ and that does not solve the problem,” Stephen Enada, who co-founded the nongovernmental organization International Committee on Nigeria, told CP in March. “We need to face reality on the ground and call a spade a spade. In Southern Kaduna, a village is almost wiped out and over 200 people have been killed in the last week.”

Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that the State Department designate Nigeria a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom violations.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

Source: The Christian Post



Christian village ransacked and church buildings burnt out in Boko Haram attack in northern Cameroon

Two church buildings were burnt out in the latest Boko Haram attack on the mainly-Christian village of Grossi in the far north of Cameroon on Saturday 11 May.

In a spree of destruction, armed Boko Haram militants ransacked the village, damaging 67 houses and two shops, killing livestock, looting motorbikes and damaging grain stores.

Villagers try to salvage grain from a food store burnt out in Boko Haram’s attack on Grossi

According to a local pastor, Cameroonian security forces attempted to intervene but were overwhelmed by the Islamist militants and the soldiers barely managed to escape. “God help us”, said the pastor as he described the “abominable” attacks.

The jihadi mob came back to fire their guns into the air on Monday 13 May before disappearing into the forest. Boko Haram will return until they “finish with us”, warned the pastor.

An earlier Boko Haram attack on Grossi took place on 25 January 2019.

Christian villages in the far north of Cameroon are subject to attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militias attempting to establish an Islamic caliphate from north-eastern Nigeria all the way to northern Cameroon. Most Cameroonian Muslims live in the north of this predominantly Christian country.

From Barnabas Fund contacts

Source: Barnabas Fund



Operation Safe Havens: 78 Persecuted Christians rescued

written by Michael Ireland 

McLEAN, VIRGINIA (ANS) — Barnabas Aid has rescued 78 Christians from dire persecution this year during Operation Safe Havens, making it possible for them to travel to a safe haven in Australia.

In March, Barnabas Aid set a prayerful target of issuing 100 air tickets in the next three months to bring persecuted Middle Eastern Christians to Australia in what they are calling Operation Safe Havens.

Smiles of joy as a Syrian Christian family arrives in Australia to start a new life, free from violence and persecution

As of May 16, the total number of tickets issued was 78. Barnabas Aid is thankful to God, to the generosity of our supporters and to the wisdom of the Australian government for this excellent progress.

Among them “Dina” and “Luko” (not their real names).

Two of “Dina’s” brothers were waiting in line to buy bread from a bakery in Syria when they were killed in a drive-by shooting.

The occupants of the car that sped past, firing at the bakery, were terrorists from the Jabat al-Nusra rebel group. They drove on to the village where Dina lived with her husband and two children.

Shooting and plundering as they went, the terrorists entered every home, gathered the Christians together and told them to leave and never come back, or they would be killed and their children raped.

“They said they would kill me if I didn’t convert.”

When “Luko’s” father died ten years ago, he and his mother were left without an adult male to protect and provide for them. That was hard enough in Middle Eastern society, but Luko tried his best to earn money while he continued his studies.

When the Syrian civil war began, their circumstances changed from difficult to dangerous, because of their Christian faith. “We live in fear in every situation … Because of our religion we live in fear because we are a target for extremists,” said Luko.

“We try to get along with people from other religions, but we are always watching our backs,” continued Luko. “I have been targeted and chased from my school by some young people, they asked me to withdraw because I am a Christian. They ended up saying that they would kill me if I didn’t convert.

“I attempted to avoid them at all costs; it reached to extremes when they followed me home and began kicking at my door, saying that they were going to kill my mother and me.”

Luko and his mother shouted their defiance but quickly the street filled with militants, who forced their way into Luko’s home, threw all their property into the street, and finally threw out Luko and his mother too.

“We want to never be attacked because of being a widow and a Christian.”

Luko and his mother yearned to escape. Luko, by this time at university, longed to continue his studies and graduate. “We want to never be attacked because of being a widow and a Christian,” he said.

Dina and family, Luko and his mother, are among many Middle Eastern Christians whom Barnabas Aid is enabling to re-settle in Australia, by helping with their airfares.

This is the mission of our Operation Safe Havens – to rescue desperate Christians, suffering extreme persecution, and bring them to places of safety and freedom.

Source: ASSIST NEWS



Minister shot in Islamist militant attack on church meeting in Niger

Islamist militants invaded a church meeting in Dolbel, about 50 km from Niger’s capital Niamey, shooting the minister as they made off with a stolen car, according to Barnabas Fund contacts.

The armed attackers forced their way into the church during a women’s meeting. They demanded to be taken to the minister’s office where they stole car keys, before loading the minister’s car up with food and other looted items.

The rise of jihadist groups in the Sahel region, including Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda has led to an escalation in tension in Niger
As they left, they confronted the minister and shot him three times – in the chest, hip and foot. He is being treated in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Naimey. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

In October 2018, a church building in the Kossey district of Naimey was burned out and looted by attackers.

In 2015, more than 70 churches in Niger were destroyed when Muslim mobs attacked Christian places of worship following publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the front cover of the French Charlie Hebdo magazine. Barnabas Fund financed the repair and reconstruction of five of the worst affected churches. There were a number of further attacks on churches in 2017, which resulted in the deaths of four Christians and in January 2018, three church leaders were kidnapped.

From Barnabas Fund contacts

Source: Barnabas Fund



After Sri Lanka bombings, 60 Christian refugees flee homes over revenge threats

By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter

NEGOMBO, SRI LANKA – APRIL 23: Coffins are carried to a grave during a mass funeral at St Sebastian Church on April 23, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. At least 311 people were killed with hundreds more injured after coordinated attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in and around Colombo as well as at Batticaloa in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities declared a state of emergency on Monday as police arrested 24 people so far in connection with the suicide bombs, which injured at least 500 people as the blasts took place at churches in Colombo city as well as neighboring towns and hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Persecuted Christian refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka are in hiding inside a police station as a result of death threats from angry Sri Lankans following last month’s Easter Sunday bombings that claimed the lives of over 250.

Multiple human rights organizations are raising an alarm as several migrant communities in Sri Lanka who originated from South Asia or the Middle East have been forced to seek legal protection as communal revenge violence has escalated in the wake of the bombings.

Although enraged Sri Lankans have primarily targeted peaceful Muslims and their property in response to last month’s bombings claimed by the Islamic State, asylum-seeking Christians from Afghanistan and Pakistan who fled the country over religious persecution are also in fear for their lives.

Anton Kyanq, a Sri Lankan pastor who has traveled the country to bring assistance to Christians in need, told The Christian Post in an interview that as many as 60 Pakistani and Afghani Christian refugees are currently housed inside of a police station in Negombo (one of the three cities where the Easter suicide bombings have occurred).

Kyanq has worked with the London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association to provide aid to the displaced Christian refugees at the Negombo police station. He estimates that as many as 160 asylum seekers are being sheltered at the station.

Sri Lanka is home to about 1,600 asylum seekers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran who fled religious, political or ethnic persecution in their homelands. About 800 asylum seekers live in rented homes in Negombo with the backing of United Nations assistance.

The other 100 migrants house at the station are of the Muslim faith, he said.

“People were told it was a terrorist attack from an Islamic background. So they thought maybe [since] these people are also from a background similar, maybe these people are also connected to these groups,” Kyanq explained. “So they were angry at them.”

Inside the police station, Kyanq said that the migrants have been given nothing but mats to sleep on and must deal with the mosquito bites, the cold breeze, and the rain.

The migrants are allowed to go back to their rented homes and come back to the police station should they want to risk their safety.

“For the time being, the protection is fine but we cannot say what will happen tomorrow,” Kyanq explained. “We don’t see any progress.”

Kyanq said that the UNHCR is providing food to all the asylum seekers in the police station, even those that had been rejected by the agency for resettlement in another country. However, Kyanq stressed that the food the UNHCR gives out is “not good.”

Throughout Negombo, hundreds of  Ahmaddiya Muslims, who follow a sect of Islam that advocates for peace and tolerance, have been forced to flee their rented homes.

Kyanq said the Pakistani Christians and Ahmadi Muslims in Sri Lanka essentially live as part of the same community as persecuted minorities from a hardline Muslim-majority country.

“They live as a community together. Even the Christians also get along with Ahmadi Muslims because both of them are persecuted,” Kyanq explained.

One Christian asylum seeker from Pakistan told the Daily Mirror that she was forced from her home the day after the April 21 Easter bombing claimed around 100 lives at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo.

“I was cooking when a group of people arrived and shouted at us to leave,” the asylum seeker named Hafza was quoted as saying. “Then, the house owner said if we don’t leave, he would also be attacked by them. We just had to leave with our kids.”

According to Kyanq, the government plans to eventually move the asylum seekers out of the police station to some sort of restricted area where they could be protected.

“Such place will be selected and they would be put into the camp or something. The government will handle everything. This is what they say,” Kyanq said. “But now the [government] allows people to leave if they want, but some people don’t find it’s safe for them to move.”

Human Rights Watch, a leading international human rights watchdog organization, reported that hundreds of asylum seekers have sought shelter in an Ahmadiyya mosque in Negombo while others have been sheltered at a local school.

HRW joined over a dozen other human rights agencies in issuing a joint statement last week calling on the Sri Lankan government to deploy adequate law enforcement to ensure the protection of the vulnerable refugee communities seeking shelter in mosques, police stations, and other locations.

The joint statement estimates that about 1,200 people from Pakistan and Afghanistan, most of them Muslims, have fled their homes in Sri Lanka due to the fear, threats, and intimidation following the Ester bombings.

The organizations call for the Sri Lankan government to “urgently relocate” refugees seeking shelter in the Negombo police station and houses of worship “to appropriate locations with adequate sanitation, sleeping space, and security.”

The joint statement stresses that the Sri Lankan government should work with UNHCR to ensure that the settlements for these refugee communities are not “de facto detention centers.”

Source: The Christian Post