Bandits have killed at least 33 people and burned four churches and hundreds of nearby homes, in Kaduna a few days after the kidnapping of more than 125 Baptist school students.
According to an eyewitness, Evangelical Church Winning All in the Abuyab Community, and the Catholic church in Matyei village were among those the buildings identified as burned down in attacks July 8-13 that left 33 people dead, including a Christian teacher.
Pastor and humanitarian Gideon Agwom Mutum, a Christian Group volunteer, received a written death threat from the bandits who also threatened to destroy a school the pastor founded in Pasakori village in southern Kaduna.
“We will kill you like goats and your family. We know your house, your church, and even your family,” they proclaimed.
Meanwhile, 121 students of the Bethel Baptist Church school in Kaduna state, are still in the camp of their captors and considered in grave danger.
Parents of the missing students have vowed to protest until their children are returned.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered military, police, and intelligence agencies to work intensely and quickly for the students’ release.
A surge in school kidnappings has prompted the government to order the temporary closure of schools in rural areas due to their vulnerability to attack. The situation has led to a national debate over ransom payments. Legislation criminalizing paying ransoms is being considered in Nigeria as an amendment to the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, ICC said.
The abductors have kidnapped over 1,000 students from educational institutions in Nigeria in the past eight months. Bandits are blamed for at least four kidnappings in Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger states – predominantly Muslim areas – since late December 2020. Most of those students kidnapped so far are more than 600.