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A Roman Catholic priest reports that 50 out of 52 Catholic Churches in Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese have been destroyed.
According to a report by on Shoebat.com, Father Jerome Ituah of Christ the King Catholic Parish in Kurudu said the buildings have been knocked down, but the people are not discouraged.
“You would always see them worshiping under rain and sun in open places at the site of their destroyed places of worship,” Ituah said, according to the report.
Heritage Foundation Africa Analyst Steven Bucci said that the numbers are consistent with the goals of Boko Haram, a jihadist militant group in Nigeria.
“They have been targeting Catholics and evangelicals right along. They are dedicated to spreading Islam by any means, and they prefer the bloodiest ways available,” Bucci said.
News of the destruction of 50 churches follows only weeks after it was reported that a Nigerian general proposed amnesty for some members of Boko Haram.
According to the report, “The national coordinator of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism center said the government is willing to embrace members of the militant group who renounce terrorism, Nigeria’s Daily Trust reported Tuesday.”
The report added, “Nigerian counter-terrorism chief Major Gen. Sarkin-Yaki Bello said the government would adopt some socio-economic measure to address extremism in the north and grant amnesty to members of Boko Haram.”
A report of an amnesty offer stands in sharp contrast to Boko Haram’s rejection of a call for peace. As WND reported last summer, the group answered “no.”
Human rights group International Christian Concern is reporting that gunmen stormed a Nigerian church in the town of Ottie and killed 19 people.
According to witnesses at the church, the method of attack and the tactics closely follow the operational methods of Boko Haram.
In a statement for the press, ICC reported that a Nigerian Christian leader who asked not to be identified put the blame completely on the jihadi group.
“Members of Boko Haram are killing Christians. They want to Islamize the North. Their targets are Christians, the security men and the police. Many Christians have already left the North,” the Christian leader said. “For those of us remaining in the North, we worship under the heavy presence of the military. The time the church was attacked was because the service was held on Monday.”
Bucci added that he’s not sure if the Nigerian government is even willing to stop Boko Haram.
International Christian Concern’s Africa specialist, William Stark, said that while he can’t vouch for the time period, destroying Catholic churches is part of Boko Haram’s method of operation.
“I do believe the recent attacks against Christians and foreigners in Nigeria have told us a lot about Boko Haram. From the outside, it looks like Boko Haram may be fracturing into different groups,” Stark said.
He said a short-lived ceasefire shows a rift in the ranks.
“Last month’s ceasefire agreement showed that there is a fracture between Boko Haram members that are ready to end the insurgency and others that are not willing to call a peace,” Stark said. “Also, this new group (Ansaru) that is targeting foreigners vs. Nigerians shows a new splinter group.”
Stark said changing names or groups won’t end the violence.
“Whether these groups continue to fracture or not, Christians will still be persecuted. There seems to be an agreement between all of the groups that Nigeria’s north shouldn’t allow Christians to exist and worship freely,” Stark said.
Former PLO operative turned Islam analyst and peace activist Walid Shoebat warned, “Look for the Islamic persecution of Christians in Nigeria – courtesy of Boko Haram – to increase.”