8 Christians killed and church set on fire in attack in Nigeria
Eight Christians were killed and a church burnt to the ground during an attack in Nigeria.
The attack last week took place in Ungwan Gaida, in the Chikun local government area in Kaduna state, north-western Nigeria, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
ICC said the attack, in which several homes were also burnt down, has been attributed to armed bandits.
A local source told ICC the church belonged to the Assemblies of God denomination.
The victims were identified as Bitrus Baba, Umaru Baba, Gideon Bitrus, Bawa Gajere, Samaila Gajere, Sambo Kasuwa, Samuila Kasuwa and Solomon Samaila.
Nigeria is one of the countries of concern highlighted in the 2021 annual report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
In the report, Commissioner Gary Bauer said radical Islamists were behind a lot of the violence against Christians.
"All too often this violence is attributed to mere 'bandits' or explained away as hostility between farmers and herdsmen," he said.
"While there is some truth in these assertions, they ignore the main truth: radical Islamists are committing violence inspired by what they believe is a religious imperative to 'cleanse' Nigeria of its Christians. They must be stopped."
According to Intersociety, a Nigeria-based NGO, some 300 Christians were killed in Kaduna state in the first four months of this year, more than any other state in the country.
It says a total of 1,470 Christians were killed across Nigeria between January and April 2021.
Nigeria is ranked 9 in the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian. It warns that Islamist extremist attacks have not abated during the pandemic.
"Many Christians who are staying at home to combat the spread of the virus have been vulnerable to attack," it says.