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Nigeria named key country of concern after 10 Christians beheaded

by Heather Preston

A Christian persecution watchdog has named Nigeria as a key country of concern for 2020 following the purported beheading of ten Christians on Boxing Day.

A splinter group of Boko Haram produced a video claiming to show the beheading of ten Christian men in the country with an accompanied voice over that stated: "'This message is to the Christians in the world. Those you see are Christians and we will shed their blood as revenge.'

The video was released on 26th December by extremist group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which claims the killings were an act of retaliation following the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who took his own life during an attack by US forces in October.

Release International says tens of thousands of Christians are being forcibly driven from their homes as they continue to be the target of persecution by Islamist terror groups.

Andrew Boyd from the charity told Premier it's particularly concerned by the threat Fulani militia pose to Christians there: "It's not just one video of an atrocity, but thousands upon thousands of Christians and others who are being displaced from their homes by a group which is largely underreported - this is Fulani extremists who are being heavily armed. "

Boyd says the actions of the extremist group are "serving the purposes of the jihadists, like Boko Haram, who want to turn Nigeria into an Islamic State."

A 2019 report by the global terrorism index states that the deaths attributed to the Fulani herdsmen have risen by 261 per cent in a single year.

According to the report, 84 per cent of their assaults are carried out against civilians and they are now the primary driver of the increase in terrorism in Sub Saharan Africa.

Release International have raised concerns over the inaction of the Nigerian government to prevent the killings.

Boyd says the actions of the Fulani militia are an "underreported" and "largely unseen Holocaust". 

"It's time Nigeria acted to stop it," he added, "so few of us have heard anything about them. Is Nigeria doing enough? Absolutely not."

The charity has urged the Christian community to pray for those facing persecution there and engage with the issue: "Jesus told his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane 'will you just watch and pray with me.' They were not able to do it. But I think that call still goes out to us today. Will you watch, will you pray, will you get involved."

Other persecution hotspots for 2020 identified by Release International include Iran, Iraq, India and China. In each of these countries there is growing evidence of increasing violence against Christians.
 

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