Increasing Violence In Nigeria Claims 1,500 Christians, Destroys 173 Churches

( [email protected] ) Apr 06, 2004 02:28 PM EDT

SANTA ANA, CA - Religious violence that erupted in the Nigerian state of Plateau a few weeks ago has expanded and resulted in the deaths of eight pastors and 1,500 Christian believers, and the destruction of 173 churches, according to Compass Direct.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) released the names of the martyred pastors who served Baptist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Reformed congregations, as well as the Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Evangelical Church of West Africa.

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency reported that religious violence in Plateau and Nasarawa states has resulted in the displacement of 25,000 people. Bauchi state official Alhaji Musa Lima told Compass, "About 50,000 displaced persons who managed to escape the hostility have temporarily relocated to some parts of this state," placing enormous pressure on local resources. On March 28, Muslim-Christian violence broke out in the state of Nasarawa, reportedly claiming the lives of 15 Christians, according to Compass Direct.

Compass Direct reports Christian leaders have condemned Muslim fundamentalists for killing Christians and destroying churches in northern Nigeria, warning that the national government's inability to address the violence could turn the country into a theater for religious war.

The Christian Association of Nigeria issued a prepared statement that read, "How can anyone explain the reason for invading a church where women, children and men were worshipping, asking them to surrender and lie face down and then proceed to machete and axe them to death in their house of worship?" The CAN statement asserted that Christians in Nigeria have never initiated violence against Muslims and claimed that Nigerian officials demonstrate lukewarm attitudes toward the plight of Christians.

"We need to keep Nigeria in our prayers - hostility to Christianity is on the increase as the conflict between the Muslim north and the Christian south continues," says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. "Sharia law has now been implemented in a dozen states. Please pray with me for the families of those who have been martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord."