Churches in northern Nigeria were set on fire as Islamist militants Boko Haram carried out a string of attacks near Chibok, reports have confirmed.According to Release International, 40 people were killed in the attacks, which occurred near the area where schoolgirls were kidnapped several months ago.
During a packed conference at All Souls, Langham Place in London, held by Release Women attendees prayed for the safe return of the several hundred kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and for families caught up in the latest attack.
It is understood from reports of survivors of the incidents, which occurred during morning prayers on a Sunday, that the Nigerian army fled as Boko Haram shot civilians and torched houses and churches.
The conference urged the Nigerian government to step up security for Christians. Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release International, said, ‘Boko Haram has made no secret of the fact that it is deliberately targeting Christians.
‘Their aims are both political and religious — you have to see the two together. They intend to set up a hard-line Islamic state and are likely to redouble their efforts to destabilise Nigeria ahead of next year’s elections’.
At the conference, chairwoman Emma Dipper called on the country’s policy makers to ‘take immediate, decisive and comprehensive measures to protect its vulnerable Christians, while there is still time’.
Release International’s latest campaign, No More Sorrow, focuses on Nigeria and has set up a petition, to present to the Nigerian High Commission in London this autumn.