Five Christians executed in Nigeria

Five Christians have been executed by an Islamist group after they were kidnapped on Christmas Eve from their village in Nigeria's northeastern Adamawa state.

The Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP), a break-away faction of Boko Haram, attacked the town of Garkida on Christmas Eve, looting and setting properties on fire. Amidst the attack, they abducted five Christian men. Days later, a video posted by the Islamic State's media channel Amaq reportedly shows the victims being shot dead from behind after they each mention their name and say they are Christians. A community leader confirmed to Open Doors the five men were members of the church that only a few days earlier had celebrated Christmas together.

During the attack at least two more people, including a 5-year old, were killed while many others fled and spent the night in the mountains. The largest church denomination in the region, the EYN, on its Facebook page posted photos of people returning to their homes the next day.

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Five Nigerian Christians were executed by extremists.

Above: a still from the execution video.

The execution is reportedly meant as a warning to Christians. “This video is a reminder of other videos that we have seen," said Illia Djadi, Open Doors' Senior Analyst for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Think of the beheading of the Coptic Christians by Islamic State on a Libyan beach in February 2015… it's the same scenario...it is part of the communication strategy of Islamist groups, and Boko Haram is using same strategy where also the timing is not co-incidental. The Christmas period is important because of the media attention an attack will attract and so Christians can expect to be targeted during this time.”

Islamist militants also targeted other predominantly Christian villages in Nigeria's northeast, in Adamawa and southern Borno state. On Christmas eve they stormed Pemi, a town in Borno state, where they killed at least 11 people, abducted a pastor and burned houses and the church.

“They directly attacked those communities," said Djadi. “These groups want to establish caliphate, Islamic law, Christians are their primary target."

Pray

Pray for the families of the victims, that they would be courageous in their mourning and trust the Lord to fulfill his purposes.

Pray also for those who continue life under the renewed onslaught of Boko Haram. Pray that Christians will remain firm in the faith and constant in hope despite the challenges.

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