A Muslim organization that has dedicated itself to eliminating Christians, and especially eradicating Christianity from its home territory in Africa, has turned in a new kill count of 19 more of the faithful.
Reports from Nigeria say that Muslims guerrillas this time killed at least that number with bomb attacks in the cities of Maiduguri and Kano.
The violence attributed to the Muslim group Boko Haram follows a weekend church suicide attack in the northern city of Bauchi.
Boko Haram claims responsibility for both episodes of violence.
The developments are alarming, experts say.
Open Doors USA and Worldwatch spokesman Jerry Dykstra notes that the sect already has killed at least 530 people so far this year.
“Many of them are Christians,” Dykstra said. “There have been at least seven suicide attacks, including churches, newspapers and police stations. Last year Boko Haram killed up to 1,000 Christians.”
The climbing numbers means Nigeria has moved up on the list of heavy persecutors.
“On the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians, Nigeria is ranked No. 13. It climbed 10 spots from the 2011 list,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra said that Boko Haram simply wants to destroy the Christian church in Nigeria.
Earlier this year Boko Haram stated that it seeks to “eradicate Christians” from areas in Nigeria. But it also has targeted some moderate mosques in northern Nigeria, officials report.
It is believed that Boko Haram has financial and logistical support outside and within Nigeria. Currently there are 12 states in Northern Nigeria which have Shariah law, the Islamic law that lays claim to managing both religious and secular life.
Boko Haram would like to institute Shariah throughout the country.
The high casualty figure follows a pattern of violence that has developed since earlier when, WND reported, the group vowed to “eradicate” Christianity.
It goals at that time were to remove Christians first from northern Nigeria, then all of Nigeria.
“The spokesman for the group (Boko Haram) say the group will launch a number of attacks targeting Christians,” said Jonathan Racho, expert on African violence. “So there are alarming developments even as we speak.”
Dykstra says that his sources indicate Boko Haram is moving forward with its agenda of violence.
“Boko Haram does have a well-coordinated strategy since its resurgence in 2009. It also wants to destabilize the government of Nigeria, led by a Christian president Goodluck Jonathan,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra said Jonathan’s willingness to talk with Boko Haram has caused a stir among some Nigerians.
“Some Nigerians have criticized Jonathan for his willingness to negotiate with Boko Haram and his failure to provide adequate security,” Dykstra said.
But he said Africa’s most populous nation holds one of the keys to the Gospel’s spread in Africa.
“Nigeria is so vital to the spread of Christianity throughout Africa. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with about 150 million people. Nigeria is 51 percent Christian and around 45 percent Muslim.”
Racho, the Africa analyst for International Christian Concern, recently returned from Africa and he says that numbers aside, the latest wave of attacks illustrates the daily life of Nigerian Christians.
“Christians in Nigeria face daily Islamic attacks. I have seen hundreds of Christians homes and churches that are demolished,” Racho said.
Dykstra said that Nigeria’s government needs a level head in this crisis and that America’s Christians can help in a practical way.
“Please pray for wisdom for the Nigerian leaders and the families of the victims of the Boko Haram church attacks; that they will be surrounded by peace only the Lord can give,” Dykstra said.
“Help them not retaliate. Pray that emergency aid Open Doors is providing after some of the attacks will get to those most in need,” Dykstra said.
However, Racho says that young Christians are getting fed up with the violence and the government inactivity and are acting to ensure their safety.
“In some areas, Christian youth are also fighting back because of lack of protection by the government of Nigeria,” Racho said.
One recent report said that Nigerian security forces had attacked and killed 16 Boko Haram rebels.
The Nigerian Joint Task Force field commander, Col. Victor Ebhaleme, said the fighting late Tuesday occurred around the densely populated Lawan Bukar and Shehuri areas of the city. He said Nigerian forces seized weapons and ammunition from the suspects and destroyed some of their home-made bombs, the report also said.
Racho says that Nigerian troops have stepped up their security activities.
“There are Nigerian security forces in many of the flashpoints. However, Christians continue to be killed at the hands of radical Muslims. The crisis in Nigeria could only come to an end if the international community pressures Nigeria to protect its vulnerable citizens,” Racho said.