Pastor and more than 80 others kidnapped in attacks on two Nigerian churches

Zelda Caldwell   By Zelda Caldwell for CNA


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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 23, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Armed men kidnapped more than 80 Christians last week in attacks on two separate churches in north-central and northwest Nigeria, reported Morning Star News.

On Sept. 17, militants raided the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Suleja in Niger state and abducted dozens of worshippers gathered together for an all-night vigil, according to the report.

Morning Star News, a news service that covers the persecution of Christians worldwide, identified some of the attackers as Fulani herdsmen based on reports from witnesses.

Suleja resident Elisha Musa told a reporter from the news service: “The Fulani herdsmen kidnapped the pastor of the church and some of his members.”

“Soldiers from Zuma Rock Barracks, Suleja, who rushed to the church to rescue worshippers and repel the attackers got there hours after the attackers had left with the kidnapped victims,” Musa added.

Only days before the attack in Suleja, “suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists” kidnapped at least 57 Christians during another all-night prayer vigil held at another Cherubim and Seraphim Church located in Kasuwan Magani in Nigeria’s Kaduna state, sources told Morning Star News.

More than a dozen escaped and 43 remain captive, said the Rev. John Joseph Hayab, Kaduna state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria. The terrorists have demanded a ransom of 200 million Naira, or $465,294, according to the report.

In 2021 alone, 4,650 Christians were killed in Nigeria, according to the Christian nongovernmental organization Open Doors. In addition to Fulani herdsmen, the terrorist groups Boko Haram and ISWAP are believed to have been responsible for attacks on both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

Sixty-eight religious freedom advocates called on U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sept. 19 to redesignate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report.

In November 2021, the State Department removed Nigeria from the list of CPCs despite the worsening situation for Christians in that country.

The Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Suleja and the Christian Association of Nigeria did not respond to requests for comment before publication time.

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