ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist militants killed three Christians in an attack on a village of Chibok County, northeast Nigeria on Tuesday (Oct. 4) that wounded dozens of others and burned homes, sources said.
The terrorists attacked Njilang village, Borno state, in the latest of many acts of terrorism over several years targeting the Chibok area. An area resident identified the assailants as members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), though local news reports attributed the assault to Boko Haram. A faction of Boko Haram in 2016 aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to ISWAP, and many Nigerians still refer to the group as Boko Haram.
Area resident Daniel Musa said ISWAP militants attacked after 2:30 a.m. armed with high-powered weapons, surrounding the village about four kilometers from Chibok town and shooting at Christian villagers who tried to flee after waking to the sound of gunshots.
“The ISWAP terrorists also set fire on six houses and looted five shops belonging to Christians in the village, and afterwards burned down the shops,” Musa told Morning Star News in a text message.
Musa said ISWAP has attacked three other predominantly Christian communities in the area in the past two weeks.
Umar Ibrahim, chairman of the Chibok Local Government Council, confirmed that the attack on Njilang community.
“This is not the first time our communities are being attacked, because ever since Boko Haram insurgents began their destructions in Borno state, Chibok communities have been under constant attacks,” Ibrahim said in a text message. “Preliminary reports I have received indicate that so far three persons have been confirmed killed, while many houses were destroyed and shops looted by the terrorists.”
Military authorities said earlier this month that 98 of the 276 high school girls kidnapped from Chibok town by Boko Harm in 2014 remain missing.
Col. Obinna Ezuipke, head of intelligence the military high command in the northeast, said that 57 of the girls escaped in 2014, and 107 were released in 2018. Three of the girls were recovered in 2019, two in 2021 and nine have been rescued this year, leaving 98 who remain in captivity, he said.
Maj. Gen. Chris Musa on Oct. 1 told a Nigerian TV station that the military is still searching for Leah Sharibu, kidnapped on Feb. 19, 2018, alongside more than 100 other students of the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state. While the other girls were released in March 21, 2018 after the kidnappers’ negotiations with the government, the terrorists retained the then-16-year-old Leah because she refused to renounce Christ.
“We will not rest until Leah Sharibu and other Chibok girls are returned and united with their families,” Musa said. “We won’t rest until all of them are safely returned.”
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.
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