Terrorists on January 15 abducted five women Christians on their way to church in Maitsauni village, Gidan Haruna in Kankara Local Government Area, Katsina State, North West Nigeria.
The victims are Rabi Isyaku, 15 years; Rabi Saidu (36); Rabi Babba (49); Saratu Hadi (27); and Nusaiba Shuaibu (13).
The incident occurred some hours after a Catholic priest, Father Isaac Achi, was burnt alive by terrorists who attacked his residence in the neighbouring North Central region of the country.
The terrorists had invaded Father Achi’s residence at about 3am but could not gain access and subsequently set it ablaze with the clergyman trapped inside.
Another priest, Father Collins Omeh, escaped the attack with bullet wounds.
An online newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the women, all members of New Life for All Church, were abducted at about 10am on their way to church.
It also said the terrorists were on motorcycles when they attacked the community.
The police in Katsina confirmed the incident, saying the attackers came with AK 47 and started shooting sporadically.
Gambo Isa, the police spokesperson, in a statement the following day, said the terrorists wounded the pastor of the church, whose name was simply given as Haruna. He added that the clergyman is receiving treatment at a medical facility in Kankara town.
Isa further stated that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Kankara was alerted but the terrorists had escaped with their victims before the policemen reached the community.
“DPO Kankara led a team of Policemen to the village but before his arrival, the terrorists had already escaped with the victims. The injured Pastor was evacuated to General Hospital, Kankara for treatment.
“Efforts are on with a view to arresting the hoodlums,” the police spokesperson said.
Terrorists have been attacking Katsina and other parts of the North West and North Central regions for years.
Scores have been killed and others, including students wounded or displaced in the attacks which started in the North East region over a decade ago.
Nigeria has been rated by various organisations as a nation where it is difficult to practice Christianity or follow Jesus.
A group, Open Doors, said Nigeria ranked seventh among the 50 countries where it is hardest to practise Christianity. It came behind Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Eritrea.
The International Christian Concern (ICC), a persecution watchdog based in the US, said in its 2021 report that “Nigeria is one of the deadliest places on Earth for Christians, as 50,000 to 70,000 have been killed since 2000.”