Christians pray as Nigeria churches fear more attacks

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has launched 30 days of prayer for Nigeria after Islamist militant group Boko Haram threatened to make June its "bloodiest month yet".

Dozens have been killed in attacks by the group on churches over three consecutive weekends this month and retaliatory attacks.

Boko Haram has threatened to quadruple its attacks on churches this Sunday. Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the group told Sahara Reporters news agency that the group had around 300 suicide bombers ready to attack churches in predominantly Christian southern Kaduna and Plateau State.

The group claims to have recruited the sons and daughters of Muslims killed during past sectarian conflicts, who have received arms and bomb-making training in Mauritania and Somalia.

It has also threatened attacks on government buildings in Kano, Kaduna, Yobe and Gombe states.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said the authorities must respond to the threats by stepping up security in targeted areas.

"Once again Boko Haram has articulated its links with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Shabaab in Somalia. The security implications of this co-operation go beyond Nigeria’s borders and international co-operation is vital to disrupt the organisation’s funders, backers and training network," he said.

"Unfortunately, the recent decision by the United States to only designate three Boko Haram members as terrorists, as opposed to the entire organisation, will not address scope of the problem posed by Boko Haram and will therefore be of limited use in disrupting its networks.

"Its stated links to international terrorist networks urgently require a far more comprehensive approach, especially since the de-facto state created in part in northern Mali by a group sympathetic to AQIM now raises the possibility of an Afghanistan-style base for Al Qaeda in West Africa.”

CSW is asking that Christians pray
• For all those who have lost loved ones, asking God to comfort and uphold them, sustaining them with His peace.
• For an end to the cycle of retaliatory violence, and that security forces would be able to calm situations using minimal force.
• Pray fervently for every attack planned against churches or government facilities to fail, and attackers to be apprehended.
• Ask God to move in power to expose Boko Haram’s plans, members, funders and backers and bring an end to every aspect of the violence perpetrated by the group.
• That regardless of their creed, Nigerians would unite against Boko Haram.
For the urgent restoration of peace and true reconciliation between religious communities in Kaduna.

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