Nigeria's president declared a state of emergency Tuesday across the country's troubled northeast, promising to send more troops to fight an increasingly violent Islamic insurgency.
Open Doors USA has issued an urgent appeal for prayer after receiving news that suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked the predominantly Nigerian Christian village of Zangan in southern Kaduna state around midnight on Monday. Local sources report fatalities and Open Doors says it understands "the entire village has been destroyed."
Anti-Christian hostility drove an Islamic extremist killing spree in the northeastern Nigerian village of Midlu Shalmi, though the attack was portrayed mainly as politically motivated, an area Christian leader said.
More than 900 Christians were slaughtered in Nigeria last year, giving it the distinction of being the nation with the highest Christian death toll. All were victims of the Boko Haram group and other Islamic militants.
With countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Somalia topping the list as some of the world's worst persecutors of Christians, it's hard to imagine that none of these countries hold the highest Christian death toll. In 2012, that shameful distinction went to Nigeria, where almost 70 percent of Christians killed globally were murdered.
Besides hit-and-run attacks by Fulani Muslims, the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group has targeted Christians in Nigeria in its effort to destabilize the government and impose Islamic law nationwide.
The Rev. John Dakwat and his wife were at work in a back corner of their church building when they heard gunshots. Dakwat, who identified the assailants as Muslim, ethnic Fulani herdsmen, managed to hide behind the church building with his wife. From there they were able to escape, he believes, because God kept the gunmen from seeing them.
A car bomb attack in a Christian enclave of Kano, the largest city in majority-Muslim northern Nigeria, has heightened religious and ethnic tensions throughout the country.
At least 20 people have been killed by a series of bombings targeting buses in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Nigeria's northern city of Kano.
Christian children fleeing from gunmen saved their lives by hiding among the rock formations towering over their village, but a 6-month-old baby and a 13-year-old girl never got the chance.
Regina Luka does not know whether it was rogue soldiers or Islamic terrorists who invaded her dual-family dwelling in Kogom Tah and killed 10 Christians; she only knows her husband and two young children are dead.
In Mubi in northeastern Nigeria, Christians do not dare step out of their homes after 8 p.m., church leaders say, and many Christians are too afraid of Islamic extremist attacks to attend church services.
After remaining silent for several weeks, the Islamist group Boko Haram killed five people in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan defended his administration’s efforts to protect churches as he visited a worship service in Abuja Dec. 30, amid disputed reports of massacred Christians in Borno state.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan told Christians gathered at a church in Nigeria's capital on Sunday that "the church is one of the main targets" of terrorist attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram, but "if the idea of Boko Haram is to stop Nigerians from worshiping God, they will not succeed."
At least 15 Christians were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria on Dec. 28 when the militants snuck into Musari, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Maiduguri, early in the morning and slit the throats of the Christians in their own homes.
It's a new year, but some things remain the same. Take Islamists for example. In Nigeria, Islamic extremists slaughtered 15 Christians. In Syria, members of the rebel group supported by the U.S. have murdered a Christian pastor, his wife and three children
Christmas Eve attacks by suspected Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria’s Borno state – already reeling from the slaughter of at least 10 Christians earlier this month – took the lives of six people at a Baptist church, as gunmen killed six others in Yobe state the same night.
At least 12 Christians, including a pastor and a deacon, were killed by unknown gunmen in separate attacks in northern Nigeria on Christmas Eve.
As the international community and the Nigerian government continue to discuss how to confront the Islamist group Boko Haram, Christians in Nigeria continue to live in fear. Until confronted, Boko Haram, along with its al Qaeda affiliates, will continue persecuting Christians in Nigeria with impunity.