Christians at a church in Nigeria’s Benue state were brutally attacked and killed on Palm Sunday during a prayer vigil.
A young boy was murdered and the church’s pastor and two other congregants were abducted by gunmen.
Gwadue Kwaghtyo, the leading pastor of Christian Pentecostal Church in Akenawe -Tswarev community, was leading prayer when the attack took place, according to local reports.
A statement by a spokeswoman for the Local Government Area of Benue state, Salome Tor, said the attackers also injured two people with a machete.
Mrs Tor said: “It was early this morning (still night hours). A church in one of the branches went for a vigil. As they were praying, they were surrounded by the armed men.
“They kidnapped three people, killed one boy and injured two people with a machete; they are now in the hospital”.
Earlier this year, a report ranked Nigeria as the top country where Christian persecution is expected to rise in 2023.
Published by Release International, the report warned pressure from extremists in northern Nigeria to create an independent Islamic state made Christians especially vulnerable.
According to Open Doors, Nigeria is the country where more Christians are killed every year than anywhere else combined.
Over 4,000 Christians were killed in the nation in 2022.