Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the killing of no fewer than 43 farmers and villagers in Borno State, northeast Nigeria, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, saying the incident was a ‘terroristic massacre’ that offended the name of God.
The Pope spoke of Saturday’s attack during his weekly audience in the Vatican, and urged all christians to unite in prayer for the victims of the the recent attacks in Nigeria.
“I want to assure my prayers for Nigeria, which unfortunately once again has been bloodied by a terroristic massacre,’’ the pope said.
Around 30 of the men were beheaded in the attack, which began on Saturday morning in the village of Zabarmari, and the U.N. estimated that at least 110 people were killed across the Jere local government area of Borno state, Nigeria.
“May God welcome them into his peace and comfort their families, and may he convert the hearts of those who commit such horrors, which gravely offend His name.’’ The Pope said.
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video on Tuesday, claimed members of the sect committed the gruesome killing. He however dismissed official figures of fatalities as untrue, insisting 78 farmers were murdered.
The Boko Haram insurgency began in north-eastern Nigeria more than a decade ago – and the violence has spread to neighbouring countries, killing more than 30,000 people and forcing two million from their homes, according to the UN.