By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Nigeria’s central-east Taraba state are mourning the death of dozens of believers who were killed by Islamic militants while they were worshiping in a church.
Two pastors, one pastor’s son, and 28 other Christians were slain in attacks on two churches in the villages of Gindin Waya and Sondi, said Reverend Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria.
Ahema said the onslaught during church services was the seventh attack on Christian communities in the Wukari Local Government Area since February.
Church officials blamed the violence on Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is sinfull’, which wants to establish a strictly Islamic state.
Witnesses said the attackers, who wore military uniforms, came from outside the state. The bloodshed underscored concerns that Boko Haram’s attacks are spreading.
Taraba state lies within Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” where its largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet, making it a flashpoint for violence.
Land disputes often break out between semi-nomadic cattle-raising communities, which tend to be Muslim, and settled farming people who are often Christian, according to activists and church groups.
Recent attacks in the area have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen who have become members of Boko Haram, according to Christians and media.
In published remarks, Ahema called the October 19 attack on Christians in Taraba state part of “a planned genocide against Christians by Islamic insurgents” who he said “invaded the southern part of the state, inhabited mostly by Christians, since February.”
Christian deaths this year added to an increase in the total number of people killed this year by Islamic militants to at least 4,099, according to activists. That is 975 more than the total deaths from attacks by militants for all last year which stood at 3,124 known victims.
Nigeria’s Christian Pesident Goodluck Jonathan has come under mounting pressure to increase security around Christian sites.
Christians comprise just over half of Nigeria’s population of roughly 158 million, but Muslims account for at least 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
In the north Boko Haram has ordered Christians to leave, but its recent attacks suggest that the group also wants non-Muslims to free other areas of Nigeria, BosNewsLife monitored.