JOS, NIGERIA (ANS) – Boko Haram, whose name is loosely translated as, “Western education is a sin,” has fought for more than nine years in Nigeria, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing more than 2 million.
In 2015, the Nigerian military began taking back most of the territory Boko Haram had controlled, but many areas remain, and the terrorists are still mounting isolated attacks.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution, and Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Now, after burning a church building in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state on March 14, Boko Haram terrorists yesterday evening (March 18) attacked a Christian-majority town in neighboring Adamawa state, sources said.
Morning Star News reports that area residents said Muslim extremists of the Boko Haram insurgency last night invaded Michika, a town they had seized in September 2014 and held until Nigerian troops recaptured it at the end of January 2015. The attack sent many residents fleeing into the surrounding mountains, with reports of the bombing of a bank and an as yet unknown number of casualties.
Mathew Favandzaer, chairman of the Michika Local Government Council, confirmed the attack, telling Morning Star News by phone that numbers of casualties and displaced persons were yet unknown. The Church of the Brethren has a strong presence in the town, whose greater area is estimated to comprise more than 375,000 people, including many Muslims among the Christian majority.
The Church of the Brethren sent an alert through Twitter urging members to pray for Christians in Michika: “Even as we extend caring to those affected by flooding in plains states & continue to grieve with the Muslim community in NZ, word has come of attacks on Michika, Nigeria, today. ‘Thus says the Lord God…Put away violence.’”
Adamawa State Police spokesman Othman Abubakar reportedly said he had no indication of casualties and that security agents had restored control, and a military spokesman said soldiers had repelled the assailants. But some residents told local press the terrorists killed many people as they looted houses, shot sporadically and set buildings on fire.
The attack on Michika comes ahead of supplementary governorship election on Saturday (March 23), one of 14 local governments to do so.
Area resident Zakaria Dauda told Morning Star News in a text message that the return of Boko Haram, which is affiliated with the Islamic State, struck fear in people struggling to recover from the 2014 occupation.
“This is a trying moment for us,” Dauda wrote. “Our God, who has never failed us as a people, will not abandon us now. He will definitely show Himself mighty again!”
The head of a Non-Governmental Organization working among displaced victims of Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria issued pleas on Facebook.
“Lord have Mercy! Mercy Lord! Mercy on CCEPI team Lord! Mercy on Michika Lord! Please pray for Michika and several CCEPI team who are under attack and some of CCEPI teams l heard are trapped in CCEPI Office,” wrote Rebecca Dali, president/CEO of the Center for Caring Empowerment and Peace Initiative (CCEPI).
Boko Haram militants had attacked Michika and four other towns in February, reportedly killing women, children and the elderly among their victims. Survivors ran to nearby mountains before the military drove out Boko Haram, which seeks to impose Islamic law (sharia) throughout Nigeria. The rebel terrorists reportedly shouted the jihadist slogan, “Allahu Akbar [God is greater]” as they attacked Michika, Madagali, Shuwa, Gulak and Bazza.
Boko Haram on Thursday (March 14) destroyed a Church of the Brethren worship building in Ngurhlavu village, Lassa, in southern Borno state, north of Adamawa state, in an attack that resulted in the killing of one person and the kidnapping of two women, according to aid and advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
In Gwandang village, Boko Haram militants on Feb. 2 attacked Church of the Brethren members, followed by assaults on Paya-Bulguma on Feb. 7 and 21 in which they burned 26 houses, according to ICC.
ICC reported that a 7-year-old boy was also abducted “and has not been heard from since.”