How many churches are there in Nigeria

Do not divide Nigeria any further: The Catholic aid organization missio Aachen and its local church partners are "very concerned about the people and Christians in northern Nigeria".

The latest terrorist attacks and the associated Islamist propaganda should not divide Nigeria any further, said missio President Dirk Bingener on Saturday. At the same time he called for the continuation of the interreligious dialogue.

After seven people were murdered at Christmas by the terrorist group Boko Haram, a new video by the Islamic State Province of West Africa (ISWAP) militia shows the execution of eleven Christians in northeastern Nigeria. The film is a "message to Christians all over the world," says a masked man in the video. The aim is to avenge the death of IS leader al-Baghdadi, who died in a US military operation.

In an interview with missio, the Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama described the attack and the video as a "targeted attack by Islamist terrorists to weaken Christianity". At the same time it is a "barbaric act against humanity that all people of good will should condemn".

"We will do everything possible"

The Islamist terrorist group is trying to attract worldwide attention by publishing the video in order to provoke a reaction from Christians, Kaigama continued. The terrorists wanted to humiliate and frustrate the Christians with their propaganda in order to drive them into a front position and a kind of war against Muslims: "We will do everything we can to ensure that this strategy of escalation and abuse of religion does not work."

In addition, the archbishop warned against placing all Muslims under general suspicion in the face of such attacks: "That only plays into the terrorists' cards." missio President Bingener added: "We will continue to support the Church in Nigeria in interreligious dialogue, which is the best way to prevent conflicts, so that the strategy of the Islamist terrorists can be undermined."

In addition, he asked the media to "report on such incidents in a differentiated manner and not to offer Islamist propaganda a platform to help the beleaguered Christians in Nigeria". Between 20,000 and 30,000 people have died as a result of Islamist terror in Nigeria since 2009. Christians and Muslims alike are among the victims. In the past few weeks, Boko Haram and ISWAP have stepped up their attacks.