Nigeria: Worshippers Under Increased Siege in Nigeria

Abuja — Christian groups have expressed solidarity with members coming under persecution in conflict-prone Nigeria.

This follows the Christmas Day killing of 11 individuals of faith and the kidnapping of a church leader in the northeast last weekend.

Militants of the Islamic State -West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, executed 11 men they had captured earlier in the year in the Borno State.

The move was reportedly part of a revenge plan by the radicals in reaction to the murder of their leaders by the military.

It is believed they were also enraged after a prisoner-swap between themselves and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari fell through.

Last week, Boko Haram kidnapped Adamawa State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Lawan Andimi, during a raid.

The extremist group released a video of Lawan calling on the authorities to secure his release.

He is quoted as telling his colleagues and family not to sorrow for him, since God's will must be respected.

"His courage is extraordinary," said Henrietta Blyth, Chief Executive Officer of Open Doors, a global pro-Christian group.

Blyth said the last few weeks had been tumultuous, difficult and heartbreaking for Christians in Nigeria.

She pledged her organisation's solidarity with Nigerians persecuted on religious ground.

Africa's most populous nation of an estimated 200 million people is equally divided among Muslims and Christians.

Conflicts have taken religious dimensions, particularly the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram, a group that is opposed to the so-called Westernisation of the country.

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