Over 70 Churches Destroyed In Niger During ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

A scene of destruction at Celpa Church in Niamey, Niger. (World Watch Monitor)
A scene of destruction at Celpa Church in Niamey, Niger. (World Watch Monitor)

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes.

The protest, which started in the country’s second city, Zinder, on Friday, Jan. 16, quickly spread to surrounding areas before reaching the capital Niamey on Saturday.

Ten people have died, and 45 churches burned down in the two days of violence, the police say. But information gathered by World Watch Monitor revealed that more than 70 churches have been destroyed, along with numerous Christian schools and organizations, including an orphanage “The Good Samaritan” run by the Assembly of God Church. The 40 children of the orphanage are currently in ”disarray” under the care of police.

Over 30 Christian homes were believed to be looted and burnt down. Those affected say the violence has left them with “only the clothes on our backs.”

Pastor Zakaria Jadi, whose church was among the destroyed buildings, told the BBC he was meeting with the elders when he heard about the attacks.

“I just rushed and told my colleagues in the church to take their families away from the place. I took my family out from the place … When I came back, I just discovered that everything has gone. There’s nothing in my house and also nothing in the church.”

All started on Jan. 16 in the southeast city of Zinder, where latest figure show that eight churches and 12 Christian homes were set on fire. Two Christian schools were also attacked and ransacked.

The violence sent some 300 Christians (out of 700 in the city) out taking refuge in army barracks. Some of them have started to get back into their homes, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

“This is the greatest loss the church in Niger has suffered in recent history. These attacks will have long-term effects on the small community of believers. A large number of local Christian families have lost everything they have labored for their entire lives. The attacks have also caused considerable fear among the believers. Our brothers and sisters in Niger are in dire need of our prayer as they respond to this challenge,” commented a worker for Open Doors International, a charity which partners with churches under pressure.

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SOURCE: World Watch Monitor

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