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World News

Nigeria kidnappings are partly fuelled by Christian persecution says Open Doors

by Lydia Davies

Christian anti-persecution charities are condemning a spate of kidnappings in Nigeria which have seen hundreds of school children and women abducted.

On Thursday around 280 students, some as young as eight years old, were taken by gunmen on motorcycles in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria.

The attack came days after dozens of women, boys and girls living in a displaced camp in north-east Nigeria were abducted by suspected Islamist terrorists from the group Boko Haram. They were abducted as they were collecting firewood.

Jabez Musa, a Nigerian lawyer told Premier Christian News he believes this is a form of Christian persecution. He said: “We as Christians take it as a part of the persecution. Even though in some of the kidnappings there are Muslims as-well.”

He has concerns for the welfare of the children as ransoms have not yet been requested from the abductors: “It is possible that some may return but the number is so huge.

“What normally happens is once someone is kidnapped they place a ransom on him, but we have not had a ransom placed [for these] pupils”

Jo Newhouse, spokesperson for Open Doors, a Christian organisation advocating for persecuted believers worldwide, condemned the abductions and called for the immediate release of the victims:

““We are horrified at these latest mass abductions of mostly women and children in Nigeria and call for their immediate release.

“For many of us this will be a reminder of when 276 mostly Christian female students aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram from their secondary school in Chibok - which was also from Borno State - in April 2014.

“But these are not isolated abductions. Attacks and kidnappings – particularly in the North of Nigeria – have seriously worsened over the last decade. Christians are among those who are especially targeted. 

“The Nigerian Government is failing to discharge its duty to protect its citizens from violence and attacks.

“Arms proliferation, impunity and Government inaction has allowed the expansion of Boko Haram and increasing violence in the north of Nigeria, where attacks by armed bandits on villages and schools are becoming endemic.”

More than 100 of the Chibok girls remain in captivity as of today.

 The Nigerian government's failure to effectively address the rampant insecurity in the country has drawn sharp criticism.

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, urged the Nigerian President to prioritise the liberation of those abducted in the recent incidents.

Blyth also called for concerted efforts to secure the release of hostages already held by Boko Haram, including young Christian girls like Leah Sharibu and the remaining Chibok girls.

According to Open Doors research, more than 37,500 people are estimated to have been killed since Boko Haram’s insurgency started in 2011.

Nigeria is ranked at number six on Open Doors’ World Watch List, where life for Christians is the most dangerous. 

*Some names have been changed for security reasons.

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