Ongoing violence in Africa
2021 is starting violently for many areas in Sub Sahara Africa.
A massive attack in western Niger near the border with Burkina Faso and Mali has left approximately one hundred people dead. The attack occurred on January 2, in two villages in the west of the country: Tchoma Bangou, where seventy people were killed, and in Zaroumadareye, where thirty more were killed. Another twenty-five people were reported to be hospitalized with wounds.
This is one of the deadliest attacks in recent memory, and it has not been claimed by anyone yet.
The two villages, which sit about 7 km apart, were attacked at the same time by two groups. This region, known as the "three borders", has been regularly targeted for years by jihadist militias.
The double attack occurred in broad daylight, coinciding with the ongoing presidential election.
This area has seen repeated attacks by groups associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The violence is part of a wider security crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa. Open Doors is currently waiting on more information on how Christians and churches have been affected.
In a separate event, at least twenty-five people were been killed by suspected members of the Muslim dominated Allied Democratic Forced (ADF) in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on New Years Eve.
The (DRC) army was chasing ADF fighters on Thursday when they found the bodies of 25 civilians, who had been taken from their fields on New Year's Eve. The massacre took place in the village of Tingwe.
The head of the civil society organization in Tingwe, Bravo Mohindo Vukulu, put the death toll at "at least 30". He said, "People had gone to their fields to prepare for New Year's Eve, the ADF picked them up one by one.” He adds, “We had alerted our forces that the ADF had passed through from the east to the northeast of Eringeti but they did not react quickly."
There has been an upsurge of violence since the beginning of last year, but the ADF has never before claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Islamic agenda of the group has been debated, but they have become more affiliated with the Islamic State in recent years.
"Most of the people in this area are Christians and the Church has suffered horrendous human and property losses in these continuous attacks,” commented a spokesperson for Open Doors’ work in Sub-Saharan Africa. “It has left countless people living in constant displacement and trauma. And as is illustrated by this event, it is extremely dangerous for people to go to their farms, which adds hunger to the already long list of challenges for our brothers and sisters in this area."
Under the current security situation and COVID-19 restrictions it is no simple matter to get the necessary support to these communities.
- Pray for the loved ones of those who lost their lives, both Christian and not. Pray for peace and comfort in a time of tragedy.
- Pray that the churches in the area would have the courage to reflect Christ in a hostile location.