The Islamic jihadist group Boko Haram has inflicted approximately 3,000 deaths in Nigeria, a top army official in the African nation claims.
Nigerian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika has given the first official estimate of toll by Boko Haram since it began its terrorist attacks in 2009, according to the Nigerian daily newspaper This Day.
The report comes just days after another series of deadly attacks against Christians in the country.
Press reports say that seven church members were killed Oct. 28 in a bomb attack on a Catholic Church in Kaduna Province.
The reports say a suicide bomber drove a car through the front wall of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in the Malali area of Kaduna and detonated a large load of explosives. Along with the seven casualties, a huge hole was blown in the front wall and roof of the church.
Kaduna is on the divide between the Muslim north and Christian south.
In a separate attack, Christian students at Federal Polytechnic State University in the Nigerian city of Mubi in Adamawa state were attacked, beaten and told to renounce their Christian faith or be killed.
The mission group Frontline Fellowship reports that one student named Manasseh says he was left for dead.
“They asked me to recant my Christian faith to spare my life. I refused. After my Muslim roommate quoted some Islamic scripture, he was told to leave the room. They said they were only after these infidels who would all die that day. Then they shot me and slashed my back,” Manasseh said.
Heritage Foundation Africa specialist Morgan Roach notes Adamawa state is half Christian and half Muslim and is not governed by Islamic law.
He said the area, however, is in Boko Haram’s sights.
At the end of September, the Nigerian military reportedly carried out an operation in the northeastern section of Nigeria, including Adamawa state, he said.
About 35 Boko Haram militants were killed and some 150 were arrested.
Even though Boko Haram has been active in Adamawa State and is a prime suspect, the group hasn’t claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Roach noted that the campus where the attack took place had just held student union elections and was divided according to sectarian lines.
The Nigerian government has been ineffective at controlling the anti-Christian violence, he asserted.
“The federal government’s response to the crisis was filled with empty rhetoric,” he said. “Despite whether or not this attack was the work of Boko Haram, this tragedy is yet another example of the government’s failure to address the deep divides in some of the most volatile parts of the country.”
Nigeria’s security issues go beyond a series of attacks. Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow Clare Lopez said Nigeria’s pattern of violence is typical of a country on the path to succumbing to Islamic law, or Shariah.
“Nigeria is yet one more example of the revival of classic Islamic jihad,” she said. “Islamic conquests proceed over a period of centuries, and that’s what happened and is happening in Nigeria and other places in West Africa.”
She said there is only one way to stop the march of jihad.
“Jihad may proceed in fits and starts, but it never ends and will not end until the ideology that animates it is forever stilled,” Lopez said.
She added a warning for those who believe al-Qaida has been wiped-out.
“Any who claims that al-Qaida is finished simply does not understand history – not even current history. Al-Qaida has metastasized into myriad franchises over the last 10 to 15 years,” Lopez said.
She said al-Qaida has an ideological and jihad presence in many places that it did not in 2001, including West Africa and East Africa.
Lopez pointed to the branches Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the group’s “very noticeable presence on the Internet.”
Al-Qaida recently has established a new affiliate, she said, Ansar al-Shariah, which is now in Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.