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02/04/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – January ended with a series of bloody attacks in the Nigerian Local Government Area of Zangon Kataf. The area has long been subject to both militant and government persecution, claiming scores of lives in recent years. The latest series of attacks claimed at least sixteen lives and left dozens of houses destroyed in the Christian-majority area.

The first attack occurred on Sunday, January 30, and left eleven villagers dead. Responding military units were ambushed on their way to the scene, suggesting a higher level of sophistication on the attackers’ part than is usually expected.

The second attack came just a day later in a neighboring village. This time five villagers were killed.

The Zangon Kataf is familiar with violence, including from their governor Nasir El-Rufai who put the entire area under house arrest on June 11, 2020, to discourage protests after the discovery of the body of Moses Yusuf, a Christian teacher, on his farm. El-Rufai’s harsh order remained in place for over two months, finally being relaxed on August 22 to merely prohibit movement from 6 pm to 6 am.

While under government-imposed house arrest, though, attackers took advantage of the quiet countryside and lack of watchmen to wreak havoc in the area.  Zangon Kataf and neighboring Kaura were subject to multiple attacks that ended up claiming approximately 120 lives. The attacks, spread out over weeks, came as no surprise to locals and would have been clearly anticipated by El-Rufai given that he has a long history of locking down communities and watching as they are attacked soon after.

The attacks in Zangon Kataf are but a small sample of the persecution spread around Nigeria’s central and northern regions. Despite this, the U.S. Department of State recently removed Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern list in a move that gave implicit approval to the state of persecution in Nigeria.

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