Thousands of Christians killed in Nigeria so far this year

(Photo: Release International)

At least 3,400 Christians have been killed by extremists in Nigeria so far this year, according to a local non-profit. 

In its latest report, the Nigeria-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) said a further 3,000 Christians have been abducted this year.

Other acts of violence include attacks on 10 priests and 300 churches. 

The largest proportion of deaths occurred in Benue state, with 450, followed by Kaduna state, with 410. 

The figures are based on reports from local and foreign media, governments, international human rights groups and eyewitness accounts. 

The estimated total falls just short of the 3,530 reported killed in the whole of 2020 by Christian NGO Open Doors.

Intersociety hit out at the Nigerian government and security forces for failing to protect the country's Christians.

"The Nigerian government has continued to face sharp criticisms and strong accusations of culpability and complicity in the killings and supervision of same," Intersociety said.

"The country's security forces have so fumbled and compromised that they hardly intervene when the vulnerable Christians are in danger of threats or attacks, but only emerge after such attacks to arrest and frame up the same population threatened or attacked."

The report goes on, "It is deeply saddening that till date those responsible for the anti Christian butcheries in the country have continued to evade justice and remained unchecked, untracked, uninvestigated and untried; leading to impunity and repeat-atrocities.

"The surviving victims and families of the dead victims are also totally abandoned by the Government of Nigeria."

Nigeria ranks ninth on the Open Doors World Watch List of the worst countries for Christian persecution. 

Christians in the middle and northern regions of Nigeria face wave after wave of attacks by militant jihadists, terrorist groups like Boko Haram, and radicalized Fulani herdsmen. 

Release International is among the groups calling for urgent action to end the violence against Christians in Nigeria. 

In a recent call to action, its patron Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali warned of the disintegration of Nigeria if the violence is not brought under control.

"If Nigeria is to continue as a single entity, a concerted military and political effort has to be made to stop the depredations of so-called herders in the Middle Belt and Yoruba land," he said.