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03/15/2023 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Muslim militants recently killed 17 unarmed Christians in the Ungwan Wakili community in the Zangon Kataf LGA of Nigeria’s Kaduna State. Kaduna is in the country’s dangerous Middle Belt region, where militants have attacked Christian communities for years. Though there are several reasons for the violence, one major motivation for the militants appears to be religious animosity, given its grossly disproportional targeting of Christian communities over the years.

In the most recent attack, the militants came at night using sophisticated weapons. A local ICC staffer reviewed pictures of 14 lifeless victims on the ground in Ungwan Wakili. Three more died of their wounds in the hospital, a community leader told ICC.

Local government officials said they will investigate the attack, accusing the military of allowing the attack despite the presence of military checkpoints nearby. Policing in Nigeria is directed by federal rather than local authorities. The militants have been attacking Christians in southern Kaduna and destroying their crops in recent months.

The governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, has a long history of allowing attacks on Christian communities and punishing Christian communities who protest the security situation in the area. Since taking office as Governor of Kaduna State in May 2015, El-Rufai has repeatedly endangered Christian communities by ordering them into strict lockdowns. These lockdown orders, which trap villagers in their homes, prevent villagers from organizing early warning systems and make militant attacks even more deadly as villagers no longer have the warning they need to flee impending attacks.

Despite international condemnation of these lockdown orders, El-Rufai has continued to punish Christians through this technique. In 2020, he locked down a Christian-majority agricultural area for over two months during planting season. Militants, taking advantage of his lockdown orders, killed more than 100 Christian villagers during that time.

An ICC staffer will be visiting the village for more details. Please pray for Christians in Nigeria.

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