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Extremist pressure on Indonesian Christians continues

IndonesiaIn a sign of rising tensions for the Christian community in Indonesia, Muslim extremists have interrupted a Mass in Central Java, little over a week after a priest was attacked by an axe-wielding assailant at another celebration.

During the celebration in the parish of St Peter Purwosari, near Surakarta, two men in the congregation of 200 began to heckle and threaten Fr Adrianus Sulistiyono, demanding that the Mass be halted. Police were eventually summoned to remove the men, but the pair returned a short time later with others and continued to threaten members of the congregation, including children, until the priest was forced from the altar amid fears for his safety.

On August 28, a 17-year-old extremist tried to detonate a suicide vest at a Mass in Medan in North Sumatra before going on to attack Fr Albert Pandiangan. (source) The Catholic Herald reported:

Authorities said [the] assailant left a pew and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding.

Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, he managed to take an axe from the backpack and attacked Fr Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand.

The motive for the attack at St Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, was not clear, but the perpetrator carried a symbol indicating support for ISIS.

Police were interrogating the man, who told them he was not working alone, Amar said, without providing details.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Issues Statement After Assassination Attempt

Patriarch Aphrem, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Aphrem, head of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

(AINA) — Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church issued a statement on the assassination attempt on his life last week. On June 19, while the Patriarch was leading a commemoration service for the Turkish genocide of Assyrians in World War One, a suicide bomber attacked the service but was stopped by the Assyrian Sutoro military forces in Qamishli, Syria (AINA 2016-06-19).

Here is the text of the statement.

The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Damascus, Wednesday June 22, 2016After returning safely to the Patriarchate in Damascus following his pastoral visit to the city of Qamishly, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, offered prayers of thanksgiving and condemned the suicide bombing which took place during His Holiness’ visit. On Sunday June 19, 2016 following the celebration of the feast of the Pentecost and after the inauguration of a monument for the Syriac Genocide Sayfo which His Holiness presided over, the faithful were gathered inside the auditorium of St. Gabriel School to celebrate the 101st annual Sayfo commemoration when a suicide bomber set himself off a short distance from the place. Two members of the Sutoro Protection Units fell martyrs and several were injured. This terroristic act is planned and executed by people who want to spread hatred and create division among the people of the region. Such acts cause great suffering to the people and aim at destroying the unity of our beloved country Syria.

His Holiness gives thanks to God Almighty for protecting him and all the others who participated in the said event, by His divine care.

He prays for the souls of the martyrs, especially the two young people who lost their lives as a result of this act of terrorism, and offers condolences to their families. He likewise prays for the quick recovery of the injured. His Holiness expresses his thanks and gratitude to their Holinesses and Beatitudes the Patriarchs of the sister churches, as well as different governments and community leaders who offered their sympathies and prayers for His Holiness’ safety by calling or writing. He, likewise, thanks the hierarchy, members of the clergy, and the entire faithful of the church who offered their prayers and expressed their concerns through phone calls, emails or text messages.

His Holiness prays the Lord to bless Syria with peace and security so that these difficult times come to an end and life returns to normal in this dear country Syria.

Suicide Bomber Targets Assyrian Event in Syria, 3 Killed

syriansFear

Syria (AINA) — A suicide bomber disguised as a priest attempted to enter an Assyrian genocide commemoration event in the al-Wusta district of Qamishli but was stopped by Assyrian forces. The bomber detonated his bomb outside the hall, killing himself and three members of the Assyrian Sutoro security forces and wounding five. It is believed the bomber was targeting Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who was leading the commemoration.

The explosion occurred at the intersection of al-Quwatli and El-Kindi Park road in a neighborhood heavily populated by Assyrians. According to AssyriaTV, the 5 wounded Assyrians have been identified as Gawriye Ado, Riad Habsuno, Marios Malke, Fayez Farman and Siwar Hassan. The deceased have not been identified.

This is the fourth attack on Assyrians in Qamishli in the past six months:

  • May 22, 2016: an attack by ISIS in the Assyrian al-Wusta district of Qamishli, Syria killed at least five persons, three of them Assyrians, and injured more than a dozen.
  • January 24, 2016: Two explosions rocked an Assyrian neighborhood in Qamishli. The first targeted the Star Cafe, where a bomb was placed on a bicycle that was left in front of the store. The explosion killed 3 Assyrians and injured 20. The second blast targeted Joseph Bakery.
  • December 30,2015: Three explosions targeted Assyrian businesses in Qamishli, 16 were killed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

Suicide Bombings in Two Towns in Nigeria Leave 26 Dead, Dozens Injured

Parents in Chibok lament kidnapping of their daughters. (VOA)

Parents in Chibok lament kidnapping of their daughters. (VOA)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suicide attacks on two predominantly Christian communities in northeast Nigeria today and on Wednesday (Jan. 27) left at least 26 persons dead and dozens of others injured, sources said.

At noon [yesterday], a suicide bomber suspected to have been sent by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group detonated explosives in a crowded market in Gombi, Adamawa state, killing at least eight people, sources said. Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, has continued to carry out terrorist attacks since losing territory to the Nigerian military last year.

“Some members of our church who escaped the attack in the market said they saw eight dead bodies, while about 28 others were injured,” the Rev. Bitrus Njidda, pastor of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in the town, told Morning Star News.

The Red Cross reported eight persons killed and 25 wounded in the bombing, said to have been carried out by a teenage boy.

Gombi was one of several Christian communities taken over by Boko Haram, and many of the town’s displaced Christians are EYN members still living in camps for internally displaced people in other parts of the country, the pastor said. Though the Nigerian military has since reclaimed Gombi, many of these displaced Christians have refused to return to the town due to fear of terrorists.

In Chibok, Borno state, suicide bombers suspected to have been sent by Boko Haram bombed a crowded market on Wednesday (Jan. 27), killing at least 17 civilians and a soldier and injuring at least 30 others, sources said. Following the government troop recovery of the town, the market had reopened that day for the first time since Boko Haram took over Chibok two years ago, area Christians said.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 high school girls in Chibok in April 2014 because of its mainly Christian population. Of the girls kidnapped since the Islamic extremist rebels seized the town two years ago, 219 remain missing.

Six suicide bombers reportedly entered Chibok on Wednesday, and The AP reported a military spokesman said that two of them were disguised as women.

Ayuba Ali, a resident of Chibok town, told Morning Star News that more than 15 persons lost their lives and another 30 were injured in the attack carried out in three locations in the town.

“Twenty-one wounded people have already been taken to Askira Uba General Hospital,” Ali said by phone. “Chibok is still not safe for displaced persons to return to.”

Njidda, who was a pastor and EYN church secretary in Chibok District before his transfer to Gombi, told Morning Star News that reports reaching him from Chibok indicate members of the church were affected.

“While I was pastoring the church there,” he added, “I had to bury more than 45 members of my church who were killed by Boko Haram Islamists in a single day. It is an incident I cannot forget in my life.”

The first explosion in Chibok reportedly hit at a military checkpoint, where a soldier was wounded and later succumbed to his injuries. At the crowded market, a woman that authorities were about to search blew herself up, killing several people and wounding a commander, according to The AP. Veiled women or men dressed as women detonated other explosives at the market, it reported.

Recently Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri, Borno state and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has increasingly used child and adult suicide bombers who may have been captured by the terrorist group. The bombers may not be carrying out the atrocities willingly; some explosives have been detonated remotely, a military bomb expert has told The AP.

Boko Haram launched a violent campaign in 2009 that has killed an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 people and forced more than 2.5 million to flee their homes. Muhammadu Buhari, president of the 51-percent Christian and 45-percent Muslim country, last month declared that Boko Haram had been “technically” defeated. – 29/1/2016

Voiorphan-306x4601ce of the Persecuted (VOP) is caring for internal refugees from Christian villages hardest hit by the Boko Haram. Many children reside at the camp, including those orphaned and woman made widows in the insurgency. Their needs are immense. Please consider supporting this mission to care for those suffering great physical and emotional trauma. VOP is on the ground in Nigeria, GO with us on the mission through your gifts.

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through your support and they keep you in their prayers.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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Boko Haram intensifies terror attacks

Boko-Haram

Nigeria: On July 10, a Boko Haram militant dressed as a woman was apprehended. He later confessed to being a member of the Islamist terrorist group. And told authorities that he intended to meet 29 other members who were present in Yola.

Monday, the Borno state police commissioner confirmed attacks by Boko Haram near Monguno.

“Boko Haram terrorists had on Friday night attacked Misala and Kalwa, which are two neighboring villages. The two villages are located not more than 17km from Monguno town on the way to Marte.

Through the night, they set houses ablaze. And later 43 persons were found dead either killed by gunshots or slaughtered like animals. They continued their attacks on other villages around the area, and set the homes ablaze. These villages had already been  abandoned, so there were no fatalities. A security member said many villages in the Monguno local government areas are being attacked almost  daily.

Chad: On July 11, a suicide bomber dressed as a woman (in a full-face veil) attacked a busy market in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad killing 15 people and injuring nearly 100. Military police tried to stop him, but was heard saying, “Allahu Akbar,” God is great in Arabic, before detonating himself.

A month ago, N’Djamena was the scene of a deadly attack that killed nearly 40 people. After that attack, Chad put a ban on women wearing the burqa attempting to prevent suicide attacks. In June, 2 more suicide bombings in N’Djamena killed 11 people.

The Chadian authorities have now stepped up their security measures and warned anyone found wearing the Muslim full-face veil would be arrested. With the latest attack, Chad plans to strictly enforce the ban. Paul Manga, national police spokesman was quoted as saying, “It now must be respected more than ever by the entire population.” And “Anyone who does not obey the law will be automatically arrested and brought to justice.”

Chad has been a major participant in the 4 nation coalition offensive (including Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon) to fight against Boko Haram. The Islamic terror group has publicly threatened the Chadian President with retaliation.

A deadly attack was thwarted when explosives were found at the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in the city of Jos on Sunday, July 12. Sources say the bombs were later defused by the Explosives Ordinance Division of the Nigerian Police Force. Jos is an area which has suffered at hands the militants during it’s 6 year long brutal campaign. 

A spokesman for the state police in Plateau said, “It was averted because the bomb was detected by the church’s security personnel. There were no casualties.” 

Cameroon: The Cameroonian military reported that at least 12 civilians and a Chadian soldier were killed in two suicide attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in the town of Fotokol of northern Cameroon, in the evening on Sunday, July 12. An officer said the attacks were targeting a special forces camp located in the town.

Niger: The militants who intended free its members from the prison in the town of Diffa, were repelled according to the country’s military. Three Boko Haram members were killed, along with one soldier in the gun battle. The prison had been attack early this year in February by the Islamic militants.

Trying to instill fear, Boko Haram recently released a video showing gruesome execution similar to the ones seen in the ISIS videos.

On Monday, Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari fired the security chiefs of the army, navy and air force  as the country endures the worst period of violence by Islamist insurgents since he came to power six weeks ago.Replacements have been chosen but have not been announced.

View the Fox News interview with Former Ambassador John Campbell and Emmanuel Ogebe, a international human rights lawyer debate the extremist group’s capabilities. 

Voice of the Persecuted

Serving those most affected by the crisis, we ask for your help. Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

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Breaking: Bomb Blast in Nigeria – News source calls a Boko Haram/ISIS connection a Marriage from Hell

NIGERIA road sign

(Voice of the Persecuted)

(CNN)For sheer cruelty, they are well matched. They also share an apocalyptic “end-of-days” vision. Now there are signs that Boko Haram — the most feared group in West Africa — may be edging toward a formal pledge of allegiance to the self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Watch Video}

For some time now, we have shown the link between Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-shabob, and other extremists groups.  A year ago we warned of the ‘super highway of terror’ that travels from the Middle East to the coasts of Africa.  The MSM is finally connecting the dots, as the stench of death and destruction goes ever deeper in the region.  As we review our past reports, you have to ask what took Western leaders and the press so long to figure this out, or to finally decide to share it with us? Though some are reporting it as happening overnight, when you take a look back, you’ll find it’s been festering and spreading like a cancer for some time. With reports coming in last year from the field, we feared with others the risks of genocide as the world remained basically silent.

From our report dated April 26, 2014:    The Stench of Death, Abomination & Devastation Coming From The Middle East & Africa

There is a terrible highway being built by evil factions that have one agenda.  Though they[terrorists] are a mixed people, they have one goal in mind, and that is to kill everyone and everything that is different from them.  If you don’t believe in their brand of god, than you will die.  They don’t care about life, they have no regard for it.  While talking with a Christian brother from this region, I have come to understand that there are nearly 100 different sects[divisions] of people who follow Islam.  And none of them seem to know which or who will go into ‘paradise’ with their God.  So they are all bent on killing seeing this as the sure way to guarantee their entry into paradise.  To die in battle fighting in the name of Allah.

So as the media and the West fiddles, so to speak, the middle east and Africa are on fire.  In Syria there has been a battle cry raised, a cry that commands all to come and fight.  This is not war in the conventional sense, this is not the Syrian people raising up to topple an evil dictator.  This is a Holy War, a jihad commanded by a Holy Book. With an end outcome of causing chaos, while ridding the world of non-believers so that their Mahdi/savior can appear.

Look at what has happened in the short span of a year.  Over 2 million are now displaced, over 200,000 have been killed. Refugee camps overflowing and people starving or dying from disease.  Attack after attack has been witnessed in village after village by the Boko Haram’s murderous rampage.  We have watched whole Christian communities and churches looted and destroyed, many burned to the ground. Aid is not nearly enough, and we’ve reported that rebels have infiltrated refugee camps hiding among the people. Many fearing to even go to the camps for refuge, choosing undesignated areas for safety instead. This in turn makes calculating true numbers of those suffering much harder.

Three armies are now battling this wicked insurrection, from Niger,  Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.  They have joined to form a multi-national force with France supplying logistics.  Young children have been forced and indoctrinated into their armies, and as recently reported little girls used as suicide bombers.  Women and children are kidnapped and used as slaves, raped and tortured.  Christians are slaughtered for not recanting their faith. We have also connected the Janjaweed from Sudan to this group, as well as possible ties with the LRA here and in the CAR.  Now Libya has been overrun with ISIS as allegiances grow and formed.

Voice of America is reporting of one refugee camp in Cameroon, that has grown to 40,000.  They describe deplorable conditions with no running water, no toliet facilities, and very little food.  The displaced complain that Christians and Muslims are put together in the camps. With the inhumane attacks by the Boko Haram many Christians are mistrusting of Muslims in such close proximity.  Knowing insurgents infiltrate these camps, Muslims are feared as Boko Haram with many frequently taken away. There is much confusion in this crisis that has been allowed to explode not only by Nigeria, but global governments who’ve been fore warned. Fear grows for innocents mistook for insurgents, Muslim and Christian alike.

VOA reports that a humanitarian crises is looming in Cameroon.  They report that ” last week, the Cameroonian forces arrested hundreds of the refugees saying they were suspected Boko Haram fighters who had infiltrated the camp. Yega (a resident)  said life has been extremely difficult for him and his family for the one week he has been here. I brought all of my family. My wife is in the market, my children are from school. They give us food normally, but the feeding will not satisfy us. That is why they call us here today in a meeting so, may be tomorrow they will give us feeding [more food], he said. “We eat two times in a day. We cook in our various houses. Mouhaman Boukar, a cattle rancher who fled from Yerwa, Borno State said he is thankful to God for saving his life from the insurgents, but said the increasing number of Nigerians in the refugee camp is making living conditions unbearable.” (More)

Our contacts are reporting similar conditions in the refugee camps and deplorable conditions for many.  Churches are struggling to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people.

Maiduguri Christians are living in fear of Boko Haram taking control of the city. The control of Maiduguri could cause an unrevokable change the political landscape

Martin Ewi, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies said, “Maiduguri is very important, extremely important, we’re talking about two million people who live in that city.” He warned, “The strategic importance of Maiduguri cannot be overestimated. “If they can take Maiduguri, taking over the whole state will be a matter of time.”

They are worried Boko Haram has placed ‘sleeper cells’ among the refugees in Maiduguri, as they have done everywhere else in their efforts to take control. If Maiduguri were to be attacked, 200,000 Christians would be at risk, unable to escape and possibly slaughtered.

Neighboring countries, Niger, Chad and Cameroon have also become targets as their forces have joined the battle against the radical insurgents. Two people were killed in Niger on Thursday by a mine thought to have been planted by Boko Haram.

Still Reeling from Tuesday’s Attacks Suicide Bombers Target Christian Areas Again on Thursday

Explosions in Nigeria’s north-central city of Jos and the northeast town of Biu over the past two days have killed at least 34 people, witnesses said Thursday.

A suicide bomber killed people at a bus station in Biu, witnesses say, while a second bomber was caught by a crowd and reportedly beaten to death. Reports claim a second bomber was killed before carrying out his mission.

One of the bombers refused to stop  at a check point then detonated. A witness claimed, the bomber may have been heading toward Biu market, but could not get past security points set up by the Civilian JTF

Following the Biu attack, two roadside bombs exploded in the city of Jos killed at least 15 people at a bus station and the motor park near the university. Witnesses claim they heard a “loud sound” then another blast moments later.

Video taken at the scene of one blast is simply to graphic to share. Please pray for the victims and their families.

Do not let up in your prayers for Nigeria. 

Voice of the Persecuted

Another Young girl suicide bomber kills five in Nigeria

nigeria potiskum

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) – A girl thought to be as young as seven-years-old on Sunday killed herself and five others in a suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria as President Goodluck Jonathan conceded his government had underrated the capacity of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.  (Read More)

Another young girl this time as young as 7 years old.   Our hearts go out to the family of this child and the families of the victims.  It’s becoming common place for this demoniacal band to use children.  As we reported in the past, Boko Haram will kill men, and kidnap the wives and children.  Indoctrinating these precious children with a satanic ideology that teaches them to kill.  Or worse, they take an innocent child and strap a bomb to them and set them off in the market place.  In addition to the five that were killed, 19 were injured.

“Potiskum is the largest city in Yobe state with booming business in the area. It has one of the largest Cattle markets in Africa and the largest in West Africa. Most of the cattle are transported to other parts of the country”  It’s seen it’s share of sorrow and attacks from Boko Haram.

  • On 3 November 2014, at least 30 people were killed as the result of a suicide bombing at a Shia Muslim religious procession at Faydia Islamic school.
  • On 10 November 2014, over 40 students were killed by a suicide bomber during a student assembly at the Government Science Secondary School.”
  • On 11 January 2015, four people were killed and over 40 were injured at Kasuwar Jagwal GSM market after an attack by two female suicide bombers, one of whom appeared to be about 15 years old.
  • A car bombing on the same day killed 2 and wounded 1 at the Divisional Police Station

Boko Haram has launched a fierce attack on Maiduguri recently and as we reported cut all roads off but one.  It has put the approx. 200,000 Christians there on edge and in danger of attack.

good luck johnathon

Goodluck Jonathon said today that his government underestimated the threat of Boko Haram.  Cameroon, Chad and Niger have sent their militaries to Nigeria to combat Boko Haram.  France is visiting Nigeria and urging Nigeria to commit to fully combating the savage group.  “It is necessary that there be full commitment from Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram,” he told reporters during a press conference in Niger’s capital, Niamey.  France is offering intelligence sharing and other assistance to the 3 armies.

The presidential election is still 4 weeks away, and what was said a month ago to be a neck and neck race is turning it seems for Buhari, an ex-military dictator.

It seems as if the media is uplifting him.  As we have said before he has a very checkered past.  He led Nigeria after a coup, until he himself was ousted.  According to a report from NBC Human-rights groups have accused Buhari’s regime of crushing political dissent and installing harsh military values into civilian life.”A lot of journalists and civil society campaigners were arrested and thrown in jail without a trial,” Nigerian author and historian Max Siollun told NBC News. “This was either because they were critical of the government of accused of fomenting dissent among opposition groups.” (More

He has promised to crush Boko Haram, something that until now has not been done.  Millions are throwing their vote to him because of this promise.  Nigerians are weary, the slaughter and sorrow they have seen is immeasurable and would break a seasoned war veteran. They have endured so much suffering.  Christians especially.  Two Million are displaced and hundreds of thousands have been killed.

  • Pray for Nigeria, pray for the election to be peaceful.
  • Pray for knowledge wisdom and guidance to the people as they elect their leader.
  • Pray for protection and for God to intervene.
  • Pray for Comfort for the suffering.
  • Pray for all the children held captive by Boko Haram to be released
  • Pray for the widows and their children
  • Pray for the Clergy there for strength and courage in their ministry to the suffering

By C. Refsland/L. Kanalos VOP Advocates

Related:

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST! Nigerian pastor describes the persecutions they are facing and calls for the Body of Christ in unity – PRAY FOR US! (VOP)

Voice of the Persecuted is an interdenominational organization standing with and stepping up for the persecuted. Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate their suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Attacks by Islamic Extremists in Nigeria Leave at Least 28 Christians Dead

Ministry-leader-Joseph-Kamida-Cham-said-two-other-churches-are-close-to-ECWA-church.-Morning-Star-News

(Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani gunmen on Friday (Jan. 2) killed 15 Christians in an area of Kaduna state where 10 others were killed on Dec. 27, ending a week of violence in Nigeria in which at least 28 died.

The ethnic Fulani herdsmen killed the 15 Christians in Ambe-Madaki village, in Kaduna’s Sanga Local Government Area, in an attack that began at about 4 a.m., sources said. On Dec. 27 in Tattaura village of the same area, Muslim Fulanis killed 10 Christians.

In yesterday’s assault, the Muslim Fulani gunmen shot villagers and set fire to their houses, a local resident, Yohanna Adamu, told Morning Star News by phone. He said many other Christians remained missing, and scores of others sustained injuries.

“Many of our people are missing, and more than 20 houses have been burned down,” he said. “We are all members of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ.”

On New Year’s Eve in Plateau state, Muslim Fulani gunmen at about 8:30 a.m. attacked the Christian community of Kantoma, Mangu Local Government Area, killing three members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), residents told Morning Star News. Area resident Ulama Joseph said by phone that Muslim Fulani herdsmen carried out the attack as the Christians were preparing for New Year’s festivities.

“The attackers came from a Muslim Fulani settlement around the area,” he said, adding that the assailants beheaded one of the three Christians killed, taking the head with them as they fled. The assault has caused panic among area Christians, most of them COCIN members.

Mark Lipdo, executive director of the Stefanos Foundation, said in a text message to Morning Star News that Christian residents of Kantoma village had sent him a distress call about Muslim Fulani gunmen shooting at them.

“I received distressed calls from the villagers asking that help be rendered to them as they were being attacked by Fulani gunmen,” Lipdo said. “They said that unless that came to them, they could be exterminated completely.”

Intervention by security agents helped reduce casualties, he said.

Abu Emmanuel, a police spokesman for the Plateau State Command, confirmed the attack.

“The Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed three villagers and beheaded one of them,” he told Morning Star News. “They took the man’s head away with them, leaving his lifeless body.”

The police spokesman said investigation into the attack had begun and urged residents to remain calm as security agents would provide protection.

Prior Attack in Kaduna

In the attack on Tattaura village in Sanga Local Government Area, Muslim Fulani gunmen on the night of Dec. 27 killed 10 Christians and wounded five others as the Christians were holding Christmas celebrations after 10 p.m., said Mike Maikarfi, one of the pastors of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC).

Maikarfi gave the names of those killed as Joel Ambo, Yakubu Ambi, Yamu Idzi, Anche Ishaku, Misalai Ngbo, Ishaya Anche, Monday Samson, Joel Anzah, Jonathan Anche and one known as P-Square.

A villager who narrowly escaped told Morning Star News by phone that five others were wounded.

“The attackers invaded our village as we were all celebrating Christmas,” he said. “They killed 10 and injured five other members of our church. Those injured during the attack are receiving treatment at the Akwanga General Hospital, in Nasarawa state.”

The attack comes six months after a similar assault on Nandu Akpong village, near Tattaura; in that June 23 attack, 19 Christians were killed.

A Tattaura community leader, Mike Sanga, told Morning Star News that those killed on Dec. 27 were buried on Monday (Dec. 29).

“Muslim Fulani herdsmen carried out both attacks,” Sanga said.

Another village resident, Thomas Adams, said Christmas celebrations in the area usually begin on Christmas Eve and last up to the first week of January. Festivities include singing carols in churches and outreaches in open fields, where worshippers give praises for the birth of Jesus Christ through song and dance.

“At about 10 p.m. the Fulani herdsmen, armed with sophisticated weapons, invaded our village,” Adams said. “Ten Christians were killed on the spot, and five others sustained injuries from gunshots.”

Kaduna State Police Commissioner Umar Shehu, confirmed the attack but said no arrests have been made. He added that soldiers and policemen have been drafted to the village to offer protection to survivors.

Gombe Suicide Bomber

In Gombe, capital of the state of the same name, a suicide bomber injured at least eight Christians guarding a New Year’s Day prayer service.

Stationed at a security checkpoint located about the length of a football field from the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) building, two of the injured Christians were seriously injured and underwent surgery at Gombe Specialist Hospital, an eyewitness told Morning Star News.

“Two of the Christians are in critical condition and were taken into the hospital’s surgery theatre,” he said.

Believed to be a member or sympathizer of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which has seized 20 towns in three states bordering Gombe state, the suicide bomber on a motorcycle carried Improvised Explosive Devices that detonated as Christians were in the church praying.

“He was stopped by a team of Boys Brigade members and some church elders who were keeping watch,” the eyewitness said. “It was while they were trying to prevent him from getting into the church that the suicide bomber detonated the bomb, killing himself and injuring 10 of the Christians who stopped him.”

Gombe resident Joseph Kamida Cham, president of Urban Frontiers Mission, told Morning Star News that there are two other churches close to the ECWA building.

“The suicide bomber targeted one of the churches where I worship in Tudun Wada Gombe,” Cham said in an email. “There are three churches side-by-side, ECWA Gospel, ECWA 3 and COCIN. COCIN and ECWA 3 are on the opposite side of the road that the bomber took; it is also the only access road into the communities behind the Gombe State University. The road is usually barricaded on Christmas and the New Year’s Day, when the service is going on.”

In the tense atmosphere that churches in the northeast have seen in the past two years, the road had been closed to traffic as early as 5:30 a.m. for the service scheduled to begin 9 a.m., he said.

“Therefore, even those going to church have to be checked,” Cham said. “By the time he came to the spot, already others were using an alternative route provided and there were others in front of him. Therefore it wasn’t an act of ignorance.”

Cham was leaving his home for the service when he saw and heard a loud explosion about 100 meters from the churches, he said.

“The only casualty is the suicide bomber, as he was torn into pieces,” he said. “He stopped and greeted the Boys Brigade that were stationed at the point alongside the police; after the explosion, the particles affected eight Christians. Two had serious injuries, while others had minor injuries and shock from the blast.”

Most of those affected had only minor injuries, he said.

Another native of Gombe confirmed the bomb attack, adding that the assailants began their activities on New Year’s Eve, when a female suicide bomber tried to attack the city’s military barracks. Soldiers reportedly fired on her when she refused to heed an order to stop, detonating the belt of explosives she had hidden under her covering. On the same day in neighboring Yobe state, in a village near Potiskum, an explosion on a bus killed seven people.

Police in Gombe confirmed the explosion on the road to the ECWA church. Police spokesman Fwaje Atajiri said in a press statement that the suicide bomber rode on a motorcycle and tried to enter the church at about 9 a.m.

“He came with a motorcycle and tried to enter the place, but as a result of the security measures put in place, he was blocked and the bomb exploded instantly and he was killed,” the police spokesman said.

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