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Many of the people have fled the area, but [the attackers] burnt down three churches: there is EYN and LCCN Churches and one other church. They also injured some people and killed some," Dim told World Watch Monitor, though he did not estimate the number of victims.

On Feb. 26, at least 14 people were killed in coordinated attacks by heavily armed Boko Haram fighters on Kirchinga, Michika and Shuwa villages in Adamawa State. Many properties including three Catholic churches were set on fire. More than 400 were killed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in February.

In Central Nigeria, widely called the Middle belt, the predominantly Christian Berom community has sustained heavy lost following increasing attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Eighteen people, most of them women and children, were killed on March 4 and 5 in four villages — Dorok, Gwon, Gwarama, and Gwarim; all in the Riyom Local Government area of Plateau State. Among the victims were eight people of the same family. The assailants, wearing military-style uniforms and armed with sophisticated weapons, burnt more than 200 houses, churches and other places of prayer.
According to one survivor, who identified himself as Peter Daniel, the attackers vowed to annihilate residents who returned back to their villages.
Across Plateau state, at least 163 people have been killed in attacks by suspected Fulanis since the beginning of the year. Each wave of violence brings renewed criticism, from the Christian Association of Nigeria and other quarters, that Nigerian security forces are not doing enough to stop the killings.

Of Nigeria's estimated 160 million people, about 70 million are Christians. The CAN is their most representative umbrella group, comprising notably five major denominational groups: the Catholic Church in Nigeria, the Christian Council of Nigeria, the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the Organization of African Instituted Churches, and the Evangelical Church Winning All.

Rev. Oritsejafor, the CAN president, appealed to government and security agencies to be proactive towards protecting lives and properties, and to prosecute the perpetrators.

On Feb. 5, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his army chiefs, replacing them with new generals with orders to crush Boko Haram. More recently, a presidential spokesman acknowledged the conflict with Boko Haram is a "war situation" and that the army is dealing with a "serious enemy."

On March 9, President Goodluck Jonathan called for more prayer to defeat the insurgency.

"We need more prayers to end terrorism. With prayers and the measures put in place, we will surmount the challenges", the president said in a speech at the opening session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, in Abuja, the federal capital.

The government's inability to put down the Islamist surge has raised widespread criticism from religious and political leaders. Violence is expected only to increase as federal elections scheduled for February 2015 approach.

The 2011 election Jonathan, a Christian from Nigeria's south, prompted unprecedented violence across the largely Muslim north in which at least 170 Christians were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands displaced, and more than 350 churches were burned or destroyed by mobs.

Is conflict in Nigeria really about persecution of Christians by radical Muslims? Published: June 24, 2013
New report coincides with President's claim: 'More Muslims than Christians killed'.
St Rita's Catholic Church in Kaduna, north-central Nigeria, after a suicide bomb attack in October 2012.St Rita's Catholic Church in Kaduna, north-central Nigeria, after a suicide bomb attack in October 2012.

World Watch Monitor
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan was reported last week to have said that statistics show that more Muslims than Christians have been killed by Boko Haram.
Speaking at his Presidential villa in the capital at the opening meeting of the Honorary International Investors' Council, led by UK Baroness Lynda Chalker (a former Secretary of State for International Development), he is reported to have said: "Initially, people thought the insurgency is about religious issues, but the pattern of attacks shows clearly that it has nothing to do with religion. Just as there are threats to churches, so also there are threats to mosques.

"They attack everywhere, killing Muslims and Christians. Even more Muslims have died in the conflict than Christians have. So the groups, whether political or whatever interest have external influence, considering the issues of Al Qaeda.

"Basically, it goes beyond religious issues. They are terrorists that have decided to destabilise the country for some reasons, sometimes it could be Western influence, governance issues and so on. They are terror groups that are not representing any religion."

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has refuted his assertion. Its spokesman Sunday Oibe responded: "Our attention has been drawn to a purported claim by President Goodluck Jonathan that the Boko Haram insurgents in the north have killed more Muslims than Christians and that it is not a religious issue.

"The purported statement by Mr. President is highly disappointing considering the fact that Christians and their churches and businesses have been the major targets of the Boko Haram terror group.

"We want to believe that the President was misquoted… If it is true that Mr. President actually made this assertion, then we are highly disappointed and sad at this veiled attempt to distort the facts as it concerns the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan during 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia.Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan during 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia.
"We say this because there has never been any bomb that has been exploded in any mosque or targeted at any mosque in the entire activities of the Boko Haram sect in the north. The Boko Haram members even said that when a Muslim is killed, it is by mistake".

A new paper, produced for the World Watch List by a Nigerian researcher who prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons, argues that the situation in Nigeria is a classic example of what could be referred to as persecution eclipse.

This is a situation, writes the author, whereby persecution and civil conflict overlap to the extent that the former is in a real or imaginative sense overshadowed or rendered almost invisible by the latter.

The paper argues that persecution eclipse minimises, overlooks or denies the suffering of a victim of persecution; encourages a causal analysis that provides vicarious justifications for the perpetrators' actions; shifts the focus of interrogation from religious freedom violations to conflict analysis; and embraces an instrumental view of conflict in which religion assumes an insignificant place in the analysis.

The concept of persecution eclipse is proposed to show how religious freedom itself can become a casualty in a situation where genuine persecution becomes lost in a murky debate.

The author distinguishes two broad categories of persecution that Christians in northern Nigeria experience: insidious persecution (typified by the daily experiences of harassment, exclusion and discrimination of many Christian minorities in the region) and elevated persecution, a more lethal form of persecution, based on outright violence.

"The majority of conflicts reported in international media as 'clashes' between Muslims and Christians in actual fact have been one-sided violence against Christians."

--World Watch List
The author claims that insidious persecution has been occurring for years, and that while elevated persecution used to be sporadic, it has become entrenched very visibly in recent years.
Civil unrest obscures religious persecution and can itself be a vehicle for persecution, the author claims, through its negative impact on the stability of society and the way it encourages Islamist groups to violently pursue their religious agenda.

"Inter-religious conflicts [relating to] the struggle over power and resources are endemic in Nigeria," writes the author. "These conflicts have been used as vehicles to pursue the objectives of persecution and to widen its scope. In order to misinform the outside world, perpetrators have learned to invent narratives that conceal the nexus between persecution and conflict, and engage in propaganda using mainstream and social media."

Another dimension of this misinformation, he argues, is that "the majority of the incidents of conflicts that have been reported in the international media as 'clashes' between Muslims and Christians in actual fact have been one-sided violence against Christians."

This report makes many interesting observations, but it doesn't investigate them in depth. However, the author has laid the groundwork for a more detailed investigation, on which others can build.
N. Korea to execute 33 for missionary work
Published: March 10, 2014
Government claims they were building a network of underground churches

A 2009 photo of a North Korean women's prison camp, near the border with Dandong, China.A 2009 photo of a North Korean women's prison camp, near the border with Dandong, China.

Courtesy Open Doors International
North Korea has ordered the death of as many as 33 people because of their alleged contact with a missionary, South Korea's largest news organization has reported.

The 33 North Koreans are charged with attempting to overthrow the regime by setting up 500 underground churches, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which cited an unnamed source. The newspaper said they are accused of working with Kim Jung-wook, a South Korean arrested by North Korean authorities in October on suspicion of trying to establish underground churches.

The executions will be carried out in a secret location administered by the State Security Department, Chosun Ilbo reported.

Kim, a Baptist missionary, appeared on North Korean television on Feb. 27 and said he was working at the direction of the South Korean National Intelligence Service, and that his goal was the collapse of the Pyongyang regime. It's unknown whether Kim's TV appearance will earn his release.

During the same television broadcast, North Korean authorities showed recorded interviews with five North Koreans who said Kim had provided money to them, Chosun Ilbo reported. The news agency did not say whether the five shown on the broadcast were among the 33 who had been arrested. It did report, however, that they said Kim vowed, after toppling the regime, to build a church on the Pyongyang spot where today a statue of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung stands.

It's not known how many of the 33 arrested people are Christian.

Kim was arrested in the North last October for allegedly establishing underground churches. Chosun Ilbo cited an unnamed source from China as saying North Korean agents kidnapped Kim in the border city of Dandong, China, and took him into North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered "unclean elements" from the country. Last year, his uncle and mentor Jang Song-Thaek was executed. Jang's children, brothers and grandchildren were killed shortly thereafter.

The sentencing of the 33 North Koreans came a day after Australian missionary John Short arrived in China after being detained for several weeks in North Korea for leaving Christian pamphlets in a Buddhist temple. North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, said Short had apologised and admitted violating North Korean laws. According to KCNA, North Korea expelled Short, 75, partly in consideration of his age.

American missionary Kenneth Bae remains imprisoned in North Korea following his November 2012 arrest while leading a tour group. Prosecutors alleged Bae was planning a coup by setting up bases in China, encouraging North Korean citizens to bring down the government, and waging a smear campaign. Despite apparent ill health and diplomatic pressure to release him, Bae continues to serve a 15-year sentence.
"The ashes whirled over the road we walked every day. Each time my feet crunched, I thought: 'One day the other prisoners will walk over me.' "

--North Korean refugee and former labor-camp prisoner
Christians estimated to number in the tens of thousands are held in North Korea's prisons and labor camps. Last week, one survivor of a three-year interment described to World Watch Monitor the conditions of the camp where she was imprisoned. Her name is being withheld because of her fears that the North Korean government might retaliate against family still living in the North.

The woman said she and several others were arrested a decade ago for fleeing North Korea, and were returned to North Korea and sent to prison.

"These escapees betrayed me and told the police I had taught the Bible to them," the woman told World Watch Monitor. "I had been beaten during the first interrogations, but now the torture became worse. The guards put a rod between my knees and pushed me down. I told God I could not take the torture anymore and prayed He would guard my lips so I would not deny Him."

After almost a year in different prisons, the woman was sent to a labor camp for nearly three years.

"The walls of our barracks were bloodstained, because we killed as many fleas and lice as we could," she said. "We received only a few spoons of rotten corn meal each. The soup we ate was usually just dirty water. If we were thirsty and wanted extra water, we needed to steal it from the nearby stream, which was polluted by the garbage of the guards."

The death rate was so high that bodies stacked up outside the crematorium, she said.
"Sometimes, they rotted for days in sheds before they were disposed or burnt. The ashes whirled over the road we walked every day. Each time my feet crunched, I thought: 'One day the other prisoners will walk over me.' "

If there were other Christians in the camp, they didn't reveal themselves.
"Nobody spoke about their faith in the camp," the woman said. "Besides, I was lucky enough to be sent to a re-education camp, and I was eventually released. Most Christians are put in so-called total-control zones. Political labor camps.

"Nobody is ever released from there." Anti-religion hostility rose worldwide in 2012, study says Published: January 15, 2014. Growth most rapid in North Africa, Middle East on reddit More Sharing Services9
The world became generally more hostile to religious believers of all faiths, Christianity included, in 2012, according to a major annual report issued Jan. 14.
Christians were harassed in more countries than followers of other faiths, though pressure on Muslims and Jews was widespread globally, according to the study, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center.

The report, now in its sixth year, measures constraints on religious freedom in two major categories: social hostilities and government restrictions. It surveys conditions in 198 countries, encompassing 99 per cent of the world's population.
Social Hostilities

A third of the world's countries had high measures of social hostilities in 2012, the highest level recorded in the study's six-year history. Pew defines social hostilities as ranging from terrorism and mob violence to harassment over religious attire.

Nearly half of all countries reported abuse of religious minorities by individuals or groups who took offense at, or felt threatened by, the minority. In the first year of the study, less than a quarter of all countries reported such abuse.

Violence, or the threat of it, against religious minorities to enforce religious norms was reported in 39 per cent of countries, compared to 33 per cent a year earlier and 18 per cent in the first year of the study.

The report said 2012 growth of social hostilities was especially rapid in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and was highest in Pakistan.
Government restrictions

High rates of official limits on religion were found in 29 per cent of the countries, about the same as the previous year. Pew examines 20 indicators of government control, including bans on specific faiths, restrictions on conversions, and preferential treatment to certain religions, among others.

Increases were detected among several of those 20 measures. Government limits on worship were citied in 74 per cent of countries, up from 69 per cent in 2011. Restrictions on public preaching were found in 38 per cent of countries, up from 31 per cent. And government force, such as arrest and prosecution, was documented in 48 per cent of the world's countries, up from 41 per cent.

Egypt ranked highest on the report's list of government restrictions.

Taking both categories — government restrictions and social hostility — into account, high levels of overall religious restrictions were reported in 43 per cent of the world's countries, the highest ever recorded by Pew. In all, three-quarters of the world's population lives under high levels of restrictions, according to the report.
The Christian experience

The Pew Center report concerns itself with all religions, not Christianity alone. It did say, however, that Christians in 2012 were harassed in more countries, 110, than any other single religion. Muslims were harassed in 109, and Jews, 71. Since the report began in 2007, Christian harassment has been reported in 151 countries, and harassment of Muslims in 135.
About the report

The Pew report released Tuesday covers 2012. It doesn't take into account momentous developments in 2013, such as the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi from Egypt's presidency and the subsequent violence against Coptic churches across Egypt; or the anarchy and deadly Muslim-Christian violence in the Central African Republic; or the continued exodus of Christians from Syria and much of the Middle East; or the bombings in Peshawar, Pakistan, that killed scores of Christians.
Pew also excludes North Korea from its study, citing the inability to obtain reliable data from, or about, the reclusive country.

Data for the report is drawn from 18 public information sources, most published by national governments, the United Nations, European Union, and non-government human-rights organizations.

ISLAMABAD, 12. Ancora sangue sulla campagna antipolio in Pakistan. Ieri due poliziotti, che faceva da scorta ad alcuni volontari impegnati nelle vaccinazioni, sono stati uccisi in un'imboscata tesa da un gruppo di miliziani. L'attacco è stato compiuto nella città di Dera Ismail Khan, nel nord-ovest del
Paese. Come hanno riferito fonti locali, gli agenti stavano ritornando da un servizio di scorta a un team di volontari che avevano vaccinato Pakistan uccisi due agenti che scortavano i volontari Ancora sangue sulla campagna antipolio i bambini di un villaggio quando sono stati attaccati da un gruppo di uomini armati. Gli assalitori si sono poi dileguati. Il Pakistan, insieme all'Afghanistan e alla Nigeria, è uno dei tre Paesi nel mondo in cui la poliomielite non è stata ancora debellata. Secondo le stime fornite dall'organizzazione mondiale della sanità (Oms), nel 2013 sono stati registrati
novantuno casi di contagio in Pakistan, soprattutto nei territori tribali del nord-ovest: nel 2012 i casi riscontrati erano stati cinquantotto. Le vaccinazioni sono fortemente ostacolate dai talebani che anche su questo fronte intendono, con attacchi e imboscate, bloccare i progressi del Paese minandone il tessuto umano e sociale. I primi di marzo i miliziani avevano compiuto un altro attacco contro gli operatori della campagna antipolio, nel distretto di Khyber: undici poliziotti che facevano da scorta e un bambino erano rimasti uccisi.

Intelligence Afghana. sotto attacco KABUL, 12. Una base dell'intelligence
afghana a Kandahar, nel sud del Paese, è stata attaccata questa mattina da un gruppo di miliziani. Tre attentatori suicidi (indossavano giubbotti con
esplosivi) hanno assaltato il compound, tentando di entrare nella base, ma sono stati bloccati dalle forze di sicurezza locali. I tre attentatori sono stati uccisi prima che potessero raggiungere il loro obiettivo, hanno affermato, in un comunicato, fonti della base dell'intelligence. Ieri era stato ucciso in pieno giorno a Kabul, con un colpo alla testa, un giornalista svedese, Nils Horner, 51 anni: lavorava come corrispondente per la radio nazionale svedese. Un testimone ha raccontato di aver sentito un colpo di pistola e di aver visto due persone allontanarsi di corsa. Il giornalista era esperto di zone di guerra. Era già stato in Afghanistan per reportage sulla caduta del regime talebano nel 2001. Aveva lavorato anche in Iraq nel 2003, per seguire l'evoluzione del conflitto. Questa mattina l'omicidio del giornalista è stato rivendicato dal gruppo talebano denominato Fidai Mahaz.

Do Pakistani Taliban need an accord with the government?
The truce declared by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in early March and the reported negotiations with the Pakistani authorities once again raise the old questions : Is it possible to negotiate with terrorists, whosoever they might be?
Is not the truce just a tactical move aimed at giving respite toTaliban to regroup and launch a new offensive? Anyway, there is no reason to believe that they are willing to renounce forever the old methods of terrorist activities.
At the beginning of this week, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Pakistan sent a letter to the heads of police departments of several provinces and the capital Islamabad. The letter cautions that the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda have found a new target for terrorist attack, viz., the former President Pervez Musharraf, whose case on charges of treason is now being heard in court.
This comes amid seemingly incipient negotiations between the government and the Taliban. In early March, the Taliban announced a ceasefire, and last week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif even had breakfast with representatives of the movement, which created a mixed reaction in the community, to put it mildly, says Boris Volkhonsky, expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.
The main question that should be answered for evaluating what is happening at present is: how sincere are the Pakistani Taliban in their desire to end the violence, and is the truce and the start of negotiations not just a tactical move giving them the necessary breathing space before a new offensive? In addition, there is still no answer to another important question: to what extent do the leaders of the Taliban who declared their readiness to begin negotiations control the heterogeneous groups united under the "Taliban" umbrella?
The answers to these questions are rather disappointing. The very next day after the announcement of the truce, terrorists carried out a bloody attack in Islamabad that killed 11 people. This means that either the Taliban are not sincere in their desire for peace, or their leaders do not control the entire movement. Threats addressed to former President Musharraf can also be explained easily. General Musharraf, who had a reputation of being a fairly strong-arm leader, waged an uncompromising struggle against them. During his presidency the question about any negotiations with the terrorists did not even arise. And this terrorist movement has gained its current strength over the years of rule by perhaps the weakest leader in the history of Pakistan - Asif Ali Zardari.
The current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who "inherited" the strengthened Taliban from his predecessor, found himself in a very difficult position, says Boris Volkhonsky. Levers of the power of pressure, which were in the hands of Musharraf, do not work so effectively now, and he has to resort to pacification, like it or not. But as the experience of the whole world shows, concessions to terrorists rarely lead to positive results. Often they only inflame and whet their appetites.
Of course, as the old adage goes, a bad peace is better than a good war. But if you look at the real business of the Pakistani Taliban and not at their peaceful declarations, we come to a disappointing conclusion. Apparently, they only need truce in order to create the appearance of willingness to participate in the political process. Nobody is thinking about renouncing terrorist methods as of now.

Jihadist International Is Coming
The extremist anti-government group "Jabhat al-Nusra" in Syria has merged with the group "Islamic State of Iraq" related to Al-Qaeda. This was stated by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Iraqi militants. In his audio announcement, he says that the two groups will fight under the same name, the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham".
Jabhat al-Nusra, which is based on foreign mercenaries, is known for its terrorism and violence against civilians. Earlier this group was only suspected of having connections with the Iraqi Al Qaeda. Now these connections are an ascertained fact.
It is particularly remarkable that the U.S has officially put both the Iraqi and Syrian groups on the list of terrorist groups. In words, the Western politicians condemn the methods used by the militants but in fact the Islamic extremists and the West are once again acting as allies, according to the analyst Evgeny Ermolaev.
"Recently, there was a great deal of talk in the West about the growing influence of jihadist groups connected with Al-Qaeda, not only in Syria but also in other Middle East countries. Even a catchy phrase "jihadist axis of evil" was coined in analogy with the "axis of evil", with which George W. Bush, Jr. associated Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Later, Deputy Secretary of State John Bolton added Cuba, Libya, and Syria to this axis. This verbal construction was purely a propaganda. The idea was to justify U.S. actions against states that were not acceptable to them.
Jihadist "axis of evil" is not a fabrication but a real phenomenon. However, America fights against this phenomenon only in words. That is at least strange for the government that declared the "global war on terror." In fact, the Iraqi or the Syrian rebels do not suffer any inconvenience from being included in the "black list". And this is despite the fact that everyone knows an approximate list of countries from which money for the gunmen can come. It is not difficult to track these cash flows, if desired, especially when the countries involved in this are close partners of the United States. The same can be said of the arms supply. However, the "war on terror", which previously the United States waged extremely selectively, disappears at all in the case of Syria. This fact confirms once more that the West and the Islamic extremist groups are again allies. And the militants, who like to call themselves "jihadists", are again leading the jihad for American interests in the region.
However, in recent weeks the European security services have openly expressed their anxiety over potential threats from jihadist mercenaries fighting in Syria. Is a split about to happen in the West over the tactics in Syria?
Victor Nadein-Raevskii, an expert, says:
The jihadist groups included in the "axis of evil" are interested not only and not so much in the expansion towards non-Muslim, for example, European countries. At this stage, their main goal is the Arab-ruled regimes. Not all, but those on which the finger is pointed as a permitted object. The jihadists consider the Arab regimes that are helping extremists as allies for the time being. Like the West, with which jihadists are now united by the common goals.
But this is a short-sighted policy of the sponsors of the jihadists. The history of the "terrorist empire of Osama bin Laden" has already demonstrated this. Intoxicated by blood and easy money, zealot extremists easily cross the limits initially set by their sponsors. This transforms them from a regional to a global problem. In recent past, the West has had to declare a "global war" against its former allies, who transgressed the outlined boundaries.
Now the history repeats itself, and it seems that the Europeans have begun to understand it. But the mechanism of Western support to jihadists is already running at such high speed that it is difficult to stop it. The Americans, at least, are not in a hurry to stop it.
As a result, the "jihadist international" is growing before our eyes. And it is hard to believe that the West and the conservative Arab regimes can limit the area of its influence to Syria alone, just as they were not able to confine the "al-Qaeda" in the borders of Afghanistan earlier. Consolidation of extremist networks of Syria and Iraq is only the first signal of major problems emerging for the world in future.