Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim residents of Kasuwan Magani in northern Nigeria yesterday killed 12 Christians after an attempt to rescue two Christian teenage girls from Muslims who had kidnapped them and coerced them to convert, area residents told Morning Star News.
James Madaki, a 50-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said another 20 Christians were injured, and that Muslims set homes and shops on fire in the predominantly Christian area of the town in Kaduna state, 31 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of the city of Kaduna.
“The names of those killed are not readily available to me at the moment, but I can confirm to you that they are Christians killed in the Christian area of the town,” Madaki told Morning Star News.
In comments corroborated by another area Christian, Madaki said two Christian teenage girls were abducted and forcefully converted to Islam two weeks ago, and that they were being held hostage in the house of the Muslim leader in Kasuwan Magani.
“The case was reported to the police, and the girls were not rescued, so some Christians decided to rescue the girls, but the Muslims in the town attacked them,” Madaki said. “The Muslims did not just attack the Christians that went to rescue the girls, but also went round town attacking Christians they sighted and burned houses belonging to Christians.”
Those killed and wounded belong to the ECWA, Baptist, Assemblies of God and Seventh-day Adventist churches, as well as Pentecostal churches in the town, he said.
“As I talk to you, 12 Christians have been killed and 20 others injured and are being been taken to hospitals in the city of Kaduna,” he said.
He said the violence broke out at about 10:30 a.m. following the attempt to rescue the girls.
Another resident of Kasuwan Magani, Omega Funom, corroborated Madaki’s account in a text message.
“The crisis here occurred because two Christian underage girls were kidnapped and forced to become Muslims by some Muslims in this town,” Funom said. “This is the practice by Muslims in Kaduna state. They abduct small Christian girls and force them to become Muslims, and when Christians reject this, they attack them to create the impression that there’s a religious crisis.”
He told Morning Star News that the sanctuary of Assemblies of God Church in the town was burned down yesterday during the attack on Christians.
“The Assembly of God Church was burnt down,” Funom wrote. “Muslims were armed with AK-47 guns as they attacked Christians. This is a Jihad by the Muslims.”
Nigerian press reports indicated, without citing sources, that the violence resulted from Christian and Muslim youths clashing over their girlfriends dating men of the other faith.
The area, which has seen several religious clashes, is a predominantly Christian community under political control of Muslims. Christians have been the victims of many unprovoked attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state.
The Rev. John Hayap, spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Nigeria Chapter, told Morning Star News he was saddened over attacks on Christians and forceful conversions of Christian girls by Muslim leaders.
“There have been such forceful conversion of teenage Christian girls by Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria, and the Nigerian government has not been able to put an end to this,” he said. “I feel very sad about such violence on Christians, but what more can we do than to pray and ask for God’s intervention. We”ll continue to preach peace and tolerance in our churches no matter the level of provocation from our Muslim neighbors.”
Mukhtar Aliyu, police spokesman for the Kaduna State Command, told Morning Star News only that there was a sectarian clash.
“Yes, there was crisis in Kasuwan Magani town today, and we are working towards restoring peace and order in the area,” he said yesterday (Feb. 26).
Samuel Aruwan, media aide to the Kaduna state governor, told Morning Star News that an effort was underway to assist the injured and the displaced from Kasuwan Magani.
“The State Emergency Management Agency has been directed to take inventory of damages and provide relief materials to victims with immediate effect,” he said.
In Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, a worship service was disrupted on Sunday (Feb. 25) when unidentified gunmen shot at worshippers, wounding a security guard.
The shooting at 10 a.m. into the building of the ECWA Good News Church in Durumi, near Garki, forced members of the congregation to scamper to safety and abandon the service, church member Stephen Markus, 35, told Morning Star News by phone.
“Rabo Danboyi, the security officer manning the entrance into our church, was shot and injured on the leg by the gunmen, and he’s currently being treated at the Federal Medical Centre here in Abuja,” Markus said. “When we heard gunshots and bullets hitting church walls, we all ran out in different directions. Some said the attackers were Boko Haram terrorists who attacked us but were resisted by our church’s security guards.”
After about 30 minutes, the pandemonium subsided, he said.
“Some of us who braved to return to the worship sanctuary learned that the shooting was done by some unknown gunmen,” Markus said.
The pastor and other church leaders could not be reached for comment. Daniel Kadzai, national president of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), confirmed the attack by unknown gunmen in a text message to Morning Star News.
Police authorities in Abuja confirmed the church shooting but declined to give further details.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.