By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Christians confirmed Tuesday that one person died and several were injured when suspected Islamic gunmen opened fire Sunday at a morning church service in Nigeria’s troubled northern Kaduna State.
The attack rocked the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation in the Gabaciwa village in the state’s Kachia Local Government Area.
The Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in published remarks that “some members” of the congregation sustained severe injuries and were rushed to hospital.
Aruwan added that Kaduna’s governor Nasir El-Rufai condemned the attack, describing it as “an evil act targeting innocent citizens exercising their constitutional and universal rights to religious freedom.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the media described them as radical “bandits” and “herdsmen” who, in virtually all cases, have an Islamic background.
Christian charity Barnabas Fund told Worthy News that this wasn’t an isolated incident. “The Gabaciwa attack took place a week after five gunmen invaded an early morning Sunday service at the ECWA church in Okedayo, Kogi State, killing one and abducting three.”
LACK OF SECURITY
The President of ECWA, Pastor Stephen Baba Panya, complained in August 2021 that the Nigerian government and security services were failing to protect Christians, noting “all human authorities have woefully failed us.”
It comes amid mounting concerns about rising attacks by Islamic extremists in the region. “Northern Nigeria is largely Muslim. And it’s in the north and the central region of Nigeria that most persecution of Christians happens,” explained Christian advocacy group Open Doors in an assessment. “More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country.”
Christians suffer from attacks by Islamists such as militants of the Boko Haram group, Fulani fighters, and ISWAP, an affiliate of the Islamic State group, among other extremists.
A report by the U.S-based Christian persecution monitoring group Open Doors shows the number of Christians killed in 2020 increased by 60 percent, primarily because of Islamic violence against Nigerian Christians.
The study says more than 2,200 of 4,761 Christians killed worldwide in 2020 died in Nigeria because of radical Islamists.
The violence was concentrated in the north and middle belt of the country but is also spreading further south, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
CHRISTIAN PROPERTIES DESTROYED
“In these attacks, Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed,” Open Doors noted.
“Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed, with the intent to lower the birth rate of Christian communities and remove their sources of income,” the group stressed.
Additionally, Christian women are often abducted and raped by these militant groups and sometimes forced to marry Muslims, Worthy News learned.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015, has come under pressure to improve security for Christians in mainly Muslim-dominated areas.
Christians complain that suspects “are seldom” brought to justice.