ABUJA, NIGERIA (Worthy News)– Suspected Islamic militants have killed at least ten Christians, including a pastor, and torched several churches in the latest anti-Christian violence to hit Nigeria, a well-informed human rights group confirmed.
International Christian Concern (ICC) said the Christians, who were killed in the country's northeastern state of Borno, had their throats slit by the attackers. "They came armed with guns but decided to butcher their victims," a witness reportedly said about the overnight attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but local residents and police have blamed militant group Boko Haram, or 'Western Education is a Sin', which wants to establish a strict Islamic state.
Boko Haram had previously ordered Christians to leave northern regions of Nigeria and attacked several churches.
The violence reportedly began Saturday night, December 1, men armed with guns and machetes entered the village of Chibok chanting "Allahu Akbar" of 'Allah is Greatest'.
'SLAUGHTERED AS SHEEP'
Local officials said the men selected homes in the predominantly Christian part of the town and "slaughtered 10 people like sheep." "They came armed with guns but decided to butcher their victims," ICC quoted a witness as saying.
The identities of those murdered were not immediately announced Monday, December 3.
"The men came in large numbers and went into homes which… were carefully selected, and slaughtered ten people while shouting 'Allahu Akbar'," another unidentified local resident told the Botswana Gazette newspaper.
"Who else apart from Boko Haram members would go into homes and slit the throats of 10 people?" another local official wondered.
ICC said Boko Haram is also suspected to be behind a series of attacks against churhes on Sunday, December 2, on Nigeria's northeastern border with Cameroon.
CHURCHES BURNED DOWN
"Residents of [the town of] Gamboru Ngala said around 50 gunmen carried out attacks on churches and other government posts in the border village.
Gunmen chanting "Allahu Akbar" invaded the town "and burned down at least three churches and two government buildings, including a police station and an immigration and customs office," ICC told Worthy News in a statement.
Most of the violence linked to Boko Haram has taken place along Nigeria's "Middle Belt" region where the mainly Christian South borders the Muslim majority North. The group is believed to be responsible for killing about 3,000 people since it began its armed insurgency in 2009.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, told Worthy News that "Almost every Sunday, Christians are attacked as Boko Haram attempts to establish a purely Islamic state in Nigeria's North."
He recalled how last Sunday, November 25, a twin suicide bombing at a church in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna killed 11 people who were gathered for worship.
US PRESSURE URGED
Stark said the U.S. and other nations should "no longer ignore" the violence dominating Nigeria's North.
"The United States is still deciding whether to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which if given, would allow the US to seize Boko Haram's assets under US jurisdiction. This would help stem the flow of arms and funds the group receives from sources outside Nigeria's borders," he said.
"Until then, Christians will continue to be murdered in Nigeria's North."
Christians have expressed concern that the consistency of the attacks shows Nigeria's government is still struggling to deal with the violence, despite its promises to increase security in the region.