In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 15, a group of armed bandits forced their way into the parish rectory of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in the northern Nigerian village of Kafin Koro. Amid shouts of “Allahu Akbar,” the gunmen gained access to the sleeping quarters of two priests, Fr. Collins Omeh and Fr. Isaac Achi, who prayed and heard each other’s confessions as they were taken hostage. Omeh was shot in the shoulder but managed to flee. Achi was shot in the chest and left to bleed to death as the terrorists—later claimed by the Islamist group Boko Haram—set fire to the premises and escaped.
This is not the first time such an attack has taken place in Nigeria, which has seen a rising tide of violence for several years. Much of it has been directed against Christians, who account for roughly 45 percent of Nigeria’s total population of 200 million, and, in particular, the country’s large Catholic minority (10 percent). Forty people were shot and killed during Mass at a parish in Ocho Diocese last June. During the five previous months, six other Catholic priests were kidnapped and killed across the country. Noting that nearly six thousand Christians were killed for their faith in 2021, the watchdog group Open Doors USA has declared Nigeria the seventh most dangerous place for Christians in the world. Experts warn that insecurity across the country is only likely to intensify in the run-up to the February 25 elections.