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5,000 Christians Killed, Over 1,000 Churches Attacked As Persecution Escalates In 2014

(REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)Storm clouds gather over the Church of the Holy Trinity in Onitsha, Nigeria, in this April 14, 2005 file photo.

Almost 5,000 Christians were killed while more than 1,000 Christian churches were attacked due to faith-based ideologies, with several Africa countries seeing the largest increase in Christian persecution, an annual report on religious freedom said.

According to the World Watch List (WWL) 2015 report released by Open Doors International this week, about 4,344 Christians were killed and 1,062 Christian churches attacked from Nov. 1, 2013 until Oct. 31, 2014.

Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians facing hostilities because of their faith, said casualties arising from Christian persecution doubled in 2014, noting that 2,123 Christian believers were killed in 2013.

While the Middle East continues to be the most violent region in the world for Christians to live in, the WWL 2015 confirmed that several countries in sub-Saharan Africa are also seeing the largest increase in Christian persecution.

Nigeria tops the list of confirmed faith-based killings with a total of 2,484 victims followed by Central African Republic where 1,088 Christians were killed. These incidents served to indicate the rapid deterioration of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa due to Islamic extremism, according to Sputnik news.

"The situation for Christians in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern provinces, has deteriorated since last year. With 78 points on the World Watch List 2015 (70 points on the World Watch List 2014), levels of pressure and violence against Christians are higher than ever," the report stated.

It also clarified that the abduction of the Chibok girls, which received substantial media coverage, was only the tip of the iceberg.

"The links between al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and Boko Haram as well as other Islamic terrorist groups in the region, and especially the inspirational link with Islamic State (Iraq, Syria) which led to the declaration of the Caliphate in northeastern Nigeria, make it likely that the Church will suffer more violent persecution in the near future," it said.

Open Doors International's WWL list ranks annually the 50 countries that are considered as the most dangerous to Christians.

The top 10 countries considered to be the most hostile to Christians in the last 12 months are: (1) North Korea; (2) Somalia; (3) Iraq; (4) Syria; (5) Afghanistan; (6) Sudan; (7) Iran; (8) Pakistan; (9) Eritrea; and (10) Nigeria.

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