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Christians flee Northern Nigeria as deadly attacks continue

Country/Region: Africa, Nigeria

They shot my father dead, and then came for the rest of the family. Nigerian Christian Hyeladi Adurkwa

Hundreds of Christians are leaving their homes in Northern Nigeria as militant Islamist group Boko Haram continues to wage its deadly campaign against them.

Nigeria-crowd-4X3.jpg
Christians were given an ultimatum to leave Northern Nigeria

Four Christian men were reportedly shot dead in Potiskum town, Yobe State, last Wednesday (11 January) as they were travelling southwards to join their families, who had already migrated to escape the violence.

Entire lorry-loads of Christians are reported to be leaving Yobe following Boko Haram’s ultimatum for Christians to quit the North and subsequent attacks against them. One Christian said that he is helping over 200 Christian families with relocation.

On 10 January, eight men and a woman – all thought to have been Christians – were gunned down in Potiskum. In the same town on the previous day, two Christians escaped unharmed by falling to the ground and playing dead as gunmen on a motorbike shot at them.

Christians are also leaving Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s spiritual homeland in Borno State, following attacks against them there. On the day that the group’s three-day ultimatum for Christians to leave the North expired, 4 January, a Christian family was attacked in their home in Maiduguri.

Ousman Adurkwa (65) was shot dead along with his son Moussa. The gunmen fired at his other son Hyeladi, but the young man’s mother took the bullet. She survived the attack.

The family’s neighbour Joseph Adams (30) said:

We are going through a very difficult time because of Boko Haram. Two weeks ago a nearby church was also burned down, and nine other Christians have been killed. Now all the houses around me are emptying.

As the anti-Christian violence continues unabated, there are growing concerns about Boko Haram’s increasing sophistication and strength. In the Sunday Telegraph on 8 January, Colin Freeman described “the alarming evolution of the sect, which has progressed from using machetes and poisoned arrows in its infancy to sophisticated carbombs and Mumbai-style mass gun attacks today”. He continued:

It is believed to be morphing into a new pan-African jihadist franchise, forging links with both al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which operates in the vast Sahara region north of Nigeria, and al-Shebab in Somalia.

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