The radical and violent Boko Haram Muslim organization in Nigeria, which has been attacking and killing Christians, has responded to the urging of Muslim leaders from the Middle East to cut back on the mayhem with a deadly car bombing and several other attacks.
WND reported earlier when the Barnabas Aid Christian organization said an appeal was issued by some of Nigeria’s Muslim scholars and other Muslim leaders from the Middle East to have the violence ratcheted back.
What followed could be interpreted as a violent “No.”
Human rights group International Christian Concern is reporting that gunmen stormed a Nigerian church in the town of Ottie and killed 19 people.
According to witnesses at the church, the method of attack and the tactics closely follow the operational methods of Boko Haram.
In a statement for the press, ICC reports that a Nigerian Christian leader who asked not to be identified put the blame completely on the jihadi group.
“Members of Boko Haram are killing Christians. They want to Islamize the North. Their targets are Christians, the security men and the police. Many Christians have already left the North. For those of us remaining in the North, we worship under the heavy presence of the military. The time the church was attacked because the service was held on Monday,” the Christian leader said.
ICC’s Africa analyst Jonathan Racho says the Christian human rights group is alarmed by the bold attack coming so soon after the plea for peace.
“The murdering of our brothers and sisters is getting out of control. Nigeria has become the killing field for Christians,” Racho said.
The attack comes a day after a car bomb in the north east Nigerian city of Damaturu killed 19 people.
The group sent an email statement that also took responsibility for attacks in two additional cities in the northeast section of the country, but no casualty figures were available on the two separate attacks.
The car bombing and other attacks come only days after a conference in which Muslim leaders and scholars gathered in Nigeria and appealed to the jihadi group to stop the violence.
WND reported over the weekend that the human rights group Barnabas Aid posted a statement on the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations’ Ramadan Conference.
“Islamic scholars and leaders in Nigeria have urged militant group Boko Haram to end its violent campaign against Christians and other targets in the country,” the organization reported. “Speaking at a lecture as part of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations’ Ramadan activities, they called for a ceasefire from the group.
“One of the speakers, Sayid Bagher Seyed Jaradi, the acting cultural consulate of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said this was ‘urgently expected for the sake of humanity, credibility of the Islamic religion and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.’”
The latest attacks come at the same time as a report that Boko Haram is demanding Christian president Goodluck Jonathan convert to Islam.
A spokesman for Jonathan said the president is rejecting the call, saying that Boko Haram’s demand amounts to blackmail.
“The president cannot be intimidated by any group or individual. The president will never resign. Nobody should imagine that he will succumb to blackmail,” spokesman Reuben Abati said according to an AFP report.
Human rights groups International Christian Concern and Open Doors USA report that Boko Haram has caused the deaths of about 1,000 people in the past calendar year.
Earlier, terrorism analyst Martin Brass, a Ph.D. whose work has appeared on Military.com and other intelligence journals, expressed doubt Boko Haram would cooperate.
“I believe barbaric groups such as Boko Haram have no interest in listening to reason since their jihadist goal is to have an Islamic state,” Brass said. He said that, as with other terrorist groups, many of the followers are blinded by powerful leaders and have no vision.
“In addition, they are often illiterate and propagandized, bombarded with examples of invasions and violence by Western leaders that have no regard for collateral damage, including Christians,” Brass said.
But American Enterprise Institute Middle East Analyst Michael Rubin said at the time even the call to end the violence was a positive step.
“The more Muslim leaders who speak out against the group, the better,” Rubin said.
Boko Haram has recently committed a wave of atrocities against Christians in Nigeria on which WND has reported.
Among the attacks was the arson that killed 50 members of a northern Nigerian church at the home of their pastor.
The attack by armed gunmen was only the first in a 12-village spree of violence that left more than 100 dead in northern Nigeria’s Plateau State, which hasn’t been in Boko Haram’s operational area.
But the group claimed responsibility for the attacks, demanding that all Christians convert or face more violence.
That report came at about the same time it was learned that Boko Haram intends to recruit 300 suicide bombers to attack Christians.
And Boko Haram also reportedly was attempting to engineer a civil war in Nigeria. Heritage Foundation Africa analyst Morgan Roach said the violence likely is an attempt at a revolution that would turn Nigeria into a Shariah-practicing Muslim nation.
WND reported Boko Haram has vowed to “eradicate” Christianity.