By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Nigerian authorities said Saturday, December 24, that police forces killed at least a dozen suspected fighters of an Islamic group blamed for deadly attacks on Christians and other targets in northern states.
In total over 60 people died in renewed fighting between Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is a sin’, and security forces which erupted Thursday in Borno and Yobe states in Nigeria’s northeast corner bordering Cameroon, Chad and Niger, officials said.
Local police commissioner Lawan Tanko was quoted as saying that his forces at least “12 of the Boko Haram armed sect and bombers.” The police commissioner said officers also recovered Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and explosives, The Associated Press reported.
Eyewitnesses said the clashes in the region forced residents to hide in their homes amid gunfire and explosions.
The latest attacks came amid mounting concerns among Nigeria’s Christian community about Islamic violence involving Boko Haram or people sharing its radical views.
In one of the most recent incidents known to Christians in northern Nigeria, a 50-year-old woman, Kunam Musa Blak, was reportedly shot and killed outside her home Kukum Gida village in Kaduna state on December 10.
Her husband, Musa Blak, and his cousin, Blai Yayok, were also shot at their doorstep during the ambush, but survived, Christians said.
Musa said in published remarks that he he was holding his wife in his arms as she died. He said he would pray for the attackers, who were identified as a radical Muslim villager allegedly helped by Fulani herdsmen and other Muslims from a nearby settlement. “They do not know what they are doing. Jesus Christ also did the same while on the cross.”
Musa and Blai have since undergone surgery.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the attack, but the family was known to be actively involved in the local Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation.
Muslim extremists oppose the spread of Christianity and Boko Haram has made clear it wants to impose Sharia, or Muslim, law in the country. Attacks since last month in northern Nigeria have killed at least over 130 Christians, including missionaries.
State governors, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) said they offered prayers for “peace and unity” in Africa’s most populous nation of 155 million people, roughly divided between Muslims and Christians.
In published remarks Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state and the Kwara State Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed said: “As we celebrate with the birth of Jesus Christ and the joy it brings to the world, we must urge ourselves use this occasion to rededicate ourselves to values and virtues that promote love, tolerance, brothers and unity among all Nigerians.”
CAN National President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged Christians to take advantage of Christmas to “pray for peace in every part of the country.”
Yet, with more violence reported Saturday, December 24, there was little evidence that northern states had returned to a sense of normalcy.