Published: 09:45 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 03 January 2013
Dozens of Christians shot and slaughtered in Christmas attacks in Nigeria
Country/Region: Africa, Nigeria
Dozens of Christians were killed during church services over the Christmas period in Northern Nigeria; others were murdered in their homes in raids by suspected Boko Haram militants.
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Most of the attacks took place in Borno state; Islamist group Boko Haram had earlier declared that any Christians remaining in the territory by Christmas would be killed. Although it has not been confirmed who was behind the violence, it seems likely that the militants were carrying out this threat.
On Christmas Eve, six people were killed by gunmen at a church service in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno state.
Another six were killed and two injured in a shooting at a church service in the early hours of Christmas Day in Siri village, near Potiskum, Yobe State. Gunmen entered the midnight service and attacked the congregation; the Rev. Yohanna Simi was among those killed.
Many residents fled Siri village to the bush during the attack. Around 20 homes and the church where the shooting had taken place were torched.
Then on Sunday (30 December), gunmen killed at least 15 worshippers at a church in Chibok, Borno state. Mohammed Kana, a regional official for the National Emergency Management Agency, said that some of the victims had had their throats slit.
It is the third consecutive year of fatal attacks on services during the Christmas season in Nigeria.
Christians were also murdered in their homes. Suspected Boko Haram militants broke into houses in a predominantly Christian area of Musari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, early in the morning on Friday (28 December). They killed a number of Christian residents by slitting their throats. Nigerian officials, who often try to downplay Boko Haram attacks, put the death toll at five; Musari residents and relief workers said 15 people had been killed.
The unrelenting violence by Boko Haram is having the intended effect of driving Christians out of Northern Nigeria. Thousands have fled from cities, including Maiduguri, Damaturu and Potiskum, as well as from many smaller towns in Taraba and Borno States.