Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tensions persist in Nigeria after armed attack

The inside of a burned
church in Nigeria
Tensions remain high in the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Nigeria, following an armed attack on March 10, reported Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) last week.

According to reports, a large group of Fulani men armed with high-powered rifles and other weaponry descended on the area, shooting randomly and torching homes. While news agencies report that three people died in house fires, local churches, who are still collating their losses, say the final death toll is likely to be higher.

The Bauchi Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria said the attackers were part of a group of 2,000 militants who had allegedly planned to “storm the area for 14 days.” In one report received by CSW, local residents, who had been on the alert since receiving threats of an attack scheduled for March 6, eventually managed to chase their attackers away. Police reinforcements are now reported to be stationed in the area.

Tafawa Balewa is predominantly inhabited by non-Muslims from the Tsayawa tribe. The area has experienced numerous sectarian attacks since 1991, when a disagreement between a Fulani man and a Tsayawa meat seller escalated into violence. Villages were burnt, 173 churches were destroyed and 400 people lost their lives.

In 1995, 30 Tsayawa villages were razed and 140 people were killed, including 36 women and children who had taken refuge in a church in Gungu-Zango Village.  In June 2000, following the introduction of “full Shariah,” Muslim youths set fire to homes and a church, and between June and October 2001, approximately 30 people were killed and 18 injured by armed Fulanis.

More recently, in April 2010, the Reverend and Mrs Ishaya Kada of the Church of Christ in Nigeria were dragged from their home, hacked to death and burnt to ashes by Muslim assailants. In January this year, Tafawa Balewa witnessed further sectarian violence following a disagreement between youths that left several dead and churches and mosques destroyed.

Please pray for believers in Nigeria. Pray that increased persecution will result in increased boldness among the believers. Pray that as they suffer, they will find peace in the fact that as they have suffered with Christ, so they will be glorified with Him, being fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:15-17). Pray, too, that those who oppress God’s children may experience repentance and salvation, just as Paul did (Acts 9:1-19).

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