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Pope Francis Expresses Solidarity with Nigerians Following Attack on Farmers

Map of Nigeria showing Borno State, scene of the attack on farmers on November 28.

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with the people of God in Nigeria following the attack on farmers over the weekend in Borno State, the North-Eastern part of the country.

“I would like to assure my prayer for Nigeria, once again hit by a terrorist attack last Saturday,” the Holy Father said Wednesday, December 2 at the end of his weekly General Audience, making reference to the November 28 attack that claimed the lives of several dozens. 

At least 110 people in Nigeria’s Borno State were reportedly killed after suspected Boko Haram insurgents riding on motorcycles attacked farmers who were harvesting in their fields November 28. 

In his remarks given at the Library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father implored that Jesus Christ may welcome all the deceased “in his peace and console their families.”

He further implored that the Lord “converts the hearts of those who commit similar acts, which go gravely against God’s name.” 

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The Pontiff is the latest global leader to react to the attack.

On Sunday, November 29, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, described the attack as the “most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year.” 

The UN Official urged “all actors on the ground to respect international laws and humanity.”  

Borno State has been gripped by jihadist attacks for years. 

In October, suspected Boko Haram jihadists murdered 22 farmers working on irrigation fields in two separate attacks in the State. 

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The same month, militants who pay allegiance to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), also attacked three military bases in Borno and the neighboring Yobe State killing 14 soldiers. 

Religious leaders in Africa’s most populous country have expressed concerns over the increasing terrorist attacks in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria and the various criminal activities in various parts of the West African nation.

On August 4, members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council called on Nigeria’s government to  intervene in the insecurity in Borno State. 

“Maiduguri, in particular, should not be allowed to be run over by the insurgents who have been throwing mortals there, killing people,” the religious leaders said in reference to the largest town in Borno State. 

They added, “The government must ensure a complete stop to the proliferation of all forms of weapons that criminals use to destroy life and property.”

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Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese also decried the terror activities that seem to target Christians in the Northern region of the country.

In his address during the November 25 #RedWednesday, an initiative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Kaigama lamented that the government is sidelining the Church in the fight against Boko Haram despite her efforts in supporting victims of the attacks.

The Nigerian Archbishop also called on Western nations to pressure Nigerian leaders to  act against insecurity, share intelligence information with authorities of the West African nation, and provide more support in the fight against terrorism.

“They (Western nations) must prevail on Nigerian leaders to be honest and single-minded in the war against terror. The UK and other nations with Christian roots should speak and act more in favour of freedom,” Archbishop Kaigama said. 

He added, “The United Nations, the UK, the European Union and key countries like the United States can do more in sharing strategic intelligence information with the Nigerian government and give more technical support.”