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Nigerian military police patroll areas where boko haram and other militants stage attacks Nigerian military police patroll areas where boko haram and other militants stage attacks  (AFP or licensors)

Nigeria: Church attacked, 2 priests and 16 parishioners dead

Reports came Tuesday of an attack against St. Ignatius Catholic church in Mbalom in Nigeria’s central Benue state. Two priests and 16 parishioners were murdered.

By Joachim Teigen

The parish church of St. Ignatius was surrounded during morning Mass. As the faithful were leaving the church the perpetrators started shooting against the congregation. This is only the most recent in a series of attacks in Nigeria over the last few years.

Nigeria’s leaders respond

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemned the attack, as did the local diocese of Makurdi who also expressed their grievance over the insecurity of the population.

Breadbasket of Nigeria

Fr. Patrick Alumuku, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Abuja, spoke with Vatican News. He explains that the attack happened in what is referred to as “the breadbasket of Nigeria”. “Groups of nomadic shepherds are forced to move south because of desertification, resulting in conflicts over lands and resources in this fertile region”, he says.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 3000 persons have been killed in attacks since 2010.

“Boko Haram ideology”

While Boko Haram has not taken responsibility, this is clearly Boko Haram ideology Fr. Alumuku says, adding that these people are attacked because they are Christians, in a region where they constitute 95 percent of the population.

While Nigerian leaders have condemned the attack, Fr. Alumuku finds a proper response from the Nigerian government wanting, saying that “nothing has been done to stop the killings that are going on day in and day out”.

Listen to the interivew with Fr Patrick Alumuku
25 April 2018, 16:34