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“Future of the Church in NE Nigeria Also Threatened”
by World Watch Monitor   
August 30th, 2014

Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect, responsible for the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Chibok in April, appears relentless in its fight for the establishment of an Islamic state in Africa’s most populous country. Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has announced, in a recent online video, the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria.

The insurgents have raised their flags over Damboa and Gwoza in Borno State, and two weeks later, over Buni Yadi in neighbouring Yobe state. Boko Haram also is trying to claim Madagali in a third state, Adamawa, near the border with Cameroon. Hundreds of sect members attacked the Madagali army base before taking over the town. They also attacked the nearby villages of Sabongari and Kafin Hausa.

Madagali's executive chairman, James Abawu Watharda, said the insurgents struck the area with sophisticated weapons, including rocket-propelled launchers, improvised explosive devices and petrol bombs. They shot at people, set property on fire and overpowered security operatives and vigilante groups before hoisting their flags. They destroyed at least five churches. They also issued written warnings to residents of neighbouring villages to vacate immediately.

Boko Haram withdrew from Madagali on Aug. 25, after holding the town for 24 hours. Nonetheless, the offensive caused widespread displacement of the mostly Christian residents and others from surrounding villages who were taking refuge in Madagali. Most have made their way to Mubi, about 80 kilometres away, itself the victim of a serious Boko Haram attack in October 2012.

Also on Aug. 25, insurgents attacked the border towns of Gamboru Ngala and Banki. The fighting forced thousands of civilians to flee across the Cameroon border.

The Nigerian army, often outgunned and regularly criticized for ineffectiveness against the insurgency, has failed to stop the militants. Hundreds of soldiers have fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

More than 178 churches were destroyed around Gwoza, says a worker for Open Doors International, which works to support Christians who are pressured because of their faith. In a telephone interview, a local Christian worker said "the situation is becoming out of hand. The church can no longer support the large population of refugees from different parts of the northeast trooping to Mubi."

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