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Islamist militants attack Nigerian village on Christmas Eve

31 December 2020


The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (right) at a press conference shortly before the attack last month

The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (right) at a press conference shortly before the attack last month

ISLAMIST militants in Nigeria attacked a village on Christmas Eve, killing several villagers, abducting a priest, and razing two church buildings to the ground.

At least 11 people are believed to have been killed in the attack in Pemi, Borno State, and others are still missing, the news agency AFP reports. A children’s parade was understood to be under way when the attack occurred. Security officials had warned that an attack by Boko Haram militants was likely over the Christian holiday, and some villagers had fled into the bush to hide.

The area is close to Chibok, where the militants kidnapped 300 schoolgirls in 2014 (News, 2 May 2014).

Last month, the group claimed responsibility for the abduction of about 350 schoolboys in north-western Katsina State. Most have since been freed. But the Nigerian government has said that the Katsina abduction was carried out by local gangs connected to the Islamist group rather than by Boko Haram itself, which is largely active in the north-east of the country.

In neighbouring Kaduna State, Christians are also being targeted by ethnic Muslim Fulani militants, in a series of kidnappings and attacks, including the reported abduction of Emmanuel Bako, and his wife, Sandra, of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, from a prayer camp on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, the wife of a pastor was abducted, three days before the Revd Thomas James, from Godiya Baptist Church, was abducted in an attack by armed militia, reports collected by the human-rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide say. Another pastor, a convert to Christianity, was founded murdered on 23 December.

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