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‘killed for sport’ by jihadists in Nigeria


Dec 31, 2023


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JOHANNESBURG — A never-ending massacre of Christians being “killed for sport” is reportedly happening in Nigeria, yet the world appears to be largely deaf to the matter.

While much of the world this week has been celebrating a beginning – Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ – in Nigeria they are mourning the end of life – the deaths of more than 100 Christians – as the world remains virtually silent.

Armed bandits ran amok, according to Amnesty International, in some 20 communities across central Nigeria, killing more than 140. In a country where accurate statistics are traditionally hard to come by, some sources have put the death toll closer to 200.

The Christians were killed in a wide swath across an invisible line that separates the mostly Muslim north and the predominately Christian south in the country’s Plateau State. According to multiple sources, Christians represent 46% of Nigeria’s population.


Nigeria attacks

This baby was injured in Christmas Day attacks at a nursing home in Bokkos, Plateau State, in Nigeria. (Reuters)

“There was yet another Christmas massacre of Christians in Nigeria yesterday. The world is — silent. Just unbelievable,” tweeted leading evangelist the Rev. Johnnie Moore on X, formerly Twitter.

More than 52,000 Christians “have been butchered or hacked to death for being Christians” since 2009 in Nigeria, according to Intersociety, a civil society group based in Onitsha.

“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria condemned the recent attacks in Plateau State and expressed heartfelt condolences for the tragic loss of life,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital in response to a question. Calling for accountability, the spokesperson added, “We are deeply concerned by the violence, and we are monitoring the situation.”

“The single worst place in the world to be a Christian is in western Africa, particularly in parts of Nigeria,” the Rev. Johnnie Moore told Fox News Digital. Moore is a former commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, and co-author of “The Next Jihad.”

“When ISIS was at its height in Iraq and Syria in 2015, terrorists in one single state in Nigeria killed more Christians than all of those killed by the ISIS caliphate in Syria and in Iraq combined,” Moore told Fox News Digital.

Mass grave of those killed by armed groups.

Family members gather on Dec. 27, 2023, to bury loved ones killed by armed groups in Maiyanga village in Nigeria’s central Plateau State. (Kim Masara/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

“Not a day goes by when Christians are not terrorized in western Africa in the most grotesque ways imaginable,” he continued. “Christians are killed for sport, especially Christian children. For every massacre which you hear about there are probably ten others which happened in the shadows. The death tolls are routinely in the hundreds.” 

“Entire villages are burnt and pillaged. Thousands of churches have been destroyed. Children and women are hunted. Countless Christians have been kidnapped. I met one pastor whose two previous churches were burned down. Yet, he stayed in harm’s way because he was determined to be a light in the darkness, even if it [costs] him his life, and it probably will.”


“There is a new, deadlier threat that can threaten both Christians and Muslims: the threat of jihadists,” Walid Phares told Fox News Digital. Phares is a political analyst who has studied jihadists in Africa and the Middle East for several decades and has written several books on the topic, most notably “The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.”

“Indoctrinated by the Muslim Brotherhood and trained by al Qaeda Africa, the Boko Haram from north Nigeria are gradually becoming the country’s ISIS,” Phares said. “They repress moderate Muslims and massacre Christians. Boko Haram attacks the Christians in the Plateau [State] area in the center to remove them and seize their lands.”

Nigeria violence

This image from AFPTV video taken on Dec. 25, 2023, shows villagers atop a car with their belongings as they flee their homes in the Bokkos local government area within Nigeria’s Plateau State. (Kim Masara/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

“There is an economic factor in the conflict, but economics are omnipresent in all similar conflicts, so this cannot explain the violence in the same way as the jihadi ideology explains it. The goal of the Nigerian jihadists is to expulse the Christians towards the south, then to eliminate them.”

Moore added, “There have been hotspots of jihadist activity in Africa for a generation, but what we are seeing now is that these hotspots are converging into a piecemeal Islamic State, which exhibits all the brutality we witnessed in Israel on Oct. 7 and in Iraq and Syria 10 years ago.”

Eyewitnesses said that when the Christmas attacks started, it took up to 12 hours for help to arrive. The former Nigerian chief of army staff, Ty Danjuma, said this was because government troops were working with the attackers.

“The armed forces are not neutral, they collude with the bandits that kill Nigerians,” he told an applauding crowd this week. “They [the army] facilitate their movements, they cover them. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will die one by one.”

The State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and we cannot confirm the perpetrators’ motivations. Religious freedom is a key U.S. foreign policy priority and plays a prominent role in our continued engagement with the Nigerian government. We continue to have concerns about religious freedom in Nigeria, and we will continue to work with the Government of Nigeria to address religious freedom issues and to ensure all human rights are protected, including the freedom of religion or belief.”

Nigeria violence

This image from AFPTV video taken on Dec. 26, 2023, shows an aerial view of destroyed homes in Maiyanga village after armed groups conducted a series of deadly attacks in Nigeria’s central Plateau State. (Kim Masara/AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images)

Critics say the administration should do more. Earlier this month, 29 religious freedom activists urged members of the Congress to demand the Biden administration redesignate Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” in the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, which is a list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The Trump administration had Nigeria placed on the list in 2020, but the Biden administration took the country off the list despite protests from human-rights groups.


Nigeria’s Intersociety group stated recently that more than 34,000 moderate Muslims have also been killed in Nigeria since 2009. But Phares said there could be hope for peace, but there must be action now.

“There are multiple Muslim communities who reject jihadism and seek coexistence. After [the] ethnic cleansing of the Christians, the jihadists [in Nigeria] will turn against moderate and reformist Muslims, as in Afghanistan or in Iran. The U.S., EU and the U.N. must create a platform for Muslim moderates and Christians in Nigeria and provide support to civil society. Nigeria could be fixed.”

Moore called for immediate action to stop the killings: “More can be done. More must be done, now. The handwriting isn’t just on the wall, it is everywhere.”


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