Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nigeria & Cameroon: Boko Haram at War

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 272 | Wed 06 Aug 2014

By Elizabeth Kendal



On Sunday 27 July Boko Haram militants attacked the Saint Charles Catholic Church in the predominantly Christian Sabon Gari district of Kano. The militants threw an IED (improvised explosive device) at worshippers coming out of the morning service, killing five and wounding eight.

On Wednesday night 30 July Boko Haram militants invaded Kwajaffa, Tashan Alade and other communities in the predominantly Christian Hawul Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State. The militants used IEDs and petrol bombs to set alight and totally raze at least five churches before threatening to return to torch the Hawul LGA HQ Secretariat. An eye witness reported that no lives were lost and only churches were targeted, and the militants operated freely without interference from security services.

On Sunday 3 August Fulani gunmen, possibly in league with Boko Haram militants, attacked a Catholic church in Ungwar Pau-Pau village in the Kachia LGA of Kaduna. The gunmen arrived during morning worship, killed the Christian youth who had been keeping guard, invaded the church and sprayed automatic weapon fire throughout the sanctuary, wounding dozens.  A survivor reports, 'They came with sophisticated weapons, shooting ... .'


Northern Nigeria has recently suffered a spate of suicide bombings in which all the bombers were teenage girls. One in Kano on Sunday 27 July; two in Kano on 28 July; two in Yobe on 29 July and another in Kano on 30 July. [See Religious Liberty Monitoring (31 July 2014) for full details.] Naturally this new trend of using teenage girls as suicide bombers has caused a shroud of horror to descend over the Christian enclave of Chibok, from where Boko Haram snatched over 200 schoolgirls in April.
Chibok girls, May 2014
[See RLPB 257 (22 April 2014)].
Citizens are calling for expert forensic DNA testing to ascertain the identities of the girls, as there are fears that Boko Haram might be using the mostly Christian teenage girls abducted from Chibok as human bombs.


On Sunday morning 27 July Boko Haram launched a daring raid into Cameroon's Extreme North. Hundreds of militants wearing Cameroonian army uniforms stormed the town of Kolofata, just 5km from the Nigerian border (82km north of Maroua), shelling and shooting indiscriminately. They targeted the home of Amadou Ali, Cameroon's Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Ali was not there, so the militants abducted his wife and her maid. They also seized the influential community leader and Sultan of Kolofata, Seiny Boukar Lamine, along with his wife and five children. At least 18 civilians and security personnel were killed in what was an extremely violent raid. The militants also targeted the local hospital, apparently in search of two workers of Western origin, who turned out to be away on holidays. A recent report in New York Times says al-Qaeda has been earning most of its funds from ransoms paid for kidnapped Europeans. On 29 July Cameroonian soldiers rescued Mrs Ali, but at least 16 people died in the rescue operation.

On Thursday afternoon 24 July Boko Haram launched a massive attack targeting Cameroonian military positions at Bargaram (also close to the Nigerian border). Between 500 and 600 militants stormed the town and ten Cameroonian soldiers died in the fire-fight which lasted well into the next day. An unknown number of people were abducted, among them Pastor Jean Marcel Kesvere (45). World Watch Monitor reports that Pastor Jean's body was found on Monday 28 July, dumped in the bush just a few kilometres from Bargaram. He leaves a wife and eight children. The entire Christian community is in shock, especially the members of the local Lutheran Brethren Church where Pastor Jean served for the past two years.


* 'frustrate the ways of the wicked' (Psalm 146:9c NIV) and bind the powers behind Boko Haram (Matthew 18:18) so that the group will know only failure until it is totally discredited amongst Muslims; may its evil be exposed until all Nigerians reject it completely.

* sever Boko Haram's supply lines until it is weakened and ultimately defeated. 'Break the arm [mechanism of action] of the wicked and evil-doer; call his wickedness to account until you find none.' (Psalm 10:15 ESV)

* shield and protect Northern Nigeria's vulnerable Christian communities. 'The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.' (Psalm 34:7 ESV)

* enable the escape or rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls and any other victims Boko Haram is holding to use as human shields or human bombs. 'The Lord sets the prisoners free.' (Psalm 146:7c ESV)

Pray Psalm 77 for the Chibok schoolgirls.

Our motivation for prayer: 'I will remember the deeds of the Lord ... You are the God who works wonders ...' (Psalm 77:11a,14a ESV)


Northern Nigeria has recently suffered a spate of deadly church attacks and suicide bombings. In six bombings in four days, all the suicide bombers were teenage girls. Many are therefore questioning if Boko Haram is using the mostly Christian schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April as human bombs as well as human shields. The group has also launched several large-scale daring raids into Cameroon's Extreme North in which many have been abducted and killed, including Pastor Jean Marcel Kesvere (45). Pastor Jean leaves a wife and eight children and a Christian community in shock. Christians across Northern Nigeria are wondering if they will ever again know peace and security. Pray that God will intervene and bind the powers behind Boko Haram.  Please pray for Nigeria and Cameroon.


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).