Radical Islamic militants and terrorist groups killed at least 200 people in the last two weeks of December, bringing the number of Nigerian Christians killed in 2020 to 2,400, according to a new report. Nigerian human rights group The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law released the report that catalogues the killings. Intersociety’s founder and chairman of the board, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said that last December was one of the deadliest months on record for Nigerian Christians. “We’ve noticed an upsurge in the killings. At least one of the reasons that I haven’t relocated to my village is just to monitor what is going on,” he said. “The local media is operating under censorship.”
This recent wave of killings follows a pattern of Islamist violence in Nigeria, he said. Since 2009, over 34,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed and many more have been displaced by the violence. Militants murdered 7 Christians every day in 2020 on average, said Umeagbalasi. At least 495 people were killed by radical Islamists in Southern Kaduna province. In one incident, Islamists stopped cars on a highway at gunpoint and interrogated the travellers to discover if they were Christian. Then, they forced the Christians from their cars and killed 5 who attempted to escape and kidnapped the remaining 35. Kidnappings of Christians Umeagbalasi said, are motivated by money, some are political attacks by the government, some are motivated by Islamic radicalism. Most people kidnapped by Islamic radicals face death or slavery.
Some of the death count includes abducted people presumed dead, Umeagbalasi said. When terrorist groups like Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militants kidnap people, they either kill them or make ransom demands. In many of last month’s cases, the kidnappers sent no ransom demands. Terrorist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province made a vow to step up attacks on Christians. Umeagbalasi said. In December, Boko Haram killed at least 130 Christians, the report said. Fulani tribe Islamist militias killed at least 70. Some of Intersociety’s sources say terrorist groups have attacked more fiercely because they believe Joe Biden’s presidential administration will not advocate for religious freedom in Nigeria, Umeagbalasi said. The Obama administration focused less on fighting Nigerian terrorism than the Trump administration did.
Umeagbalasi said that Nigeria’s government supports or ignores radical Islamist killings. On December 17, Islamists killed a family of eight in the Gora Gan community. The family’s home was in front of a military barracks. “If the Fulani jihadis can attack and wipe out a family of eight located opposite a military base where soldiers are stationed, it tells you there’s very strong evidence of the conspiratorial nature of the military and the jihadis,” he said. In 2021, Islamist attacks on Nigerian Christians will probably increase, Umeagbalasi said. “We are seeing the continuation and consolidation of the attacks on Christians. There is no hope on the ground that suggests otherwise,” he said. “The security forces are disproportionately composed of Muslims. The Christians are not likely to get protection. Don’t expect the government to do anything.”
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