Murder of French priest by Muslim extremists shocked the West, but such attacks no longer shake African churches

The murder of the French Catholic priest by Islamic extremists may have shocked the West, but to churches in Africa, such things no longer shake them.

On July 26, Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old parish priest of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, was killed by two ISIS sympathizers. The two men stormed the church during Mass, took some hostages and murdered the priest by slitting his throat.

Hamel's murder is the first documented case of an ISIS attack in a Western church while the Mass was ongoing.

A wall painted by Boko Haram is pictured in Damasak March 24, 2015. Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 400 women and children. April 14, 2016 03:00pm EDT | Reuters

While the atrocity both shook and angered many people, Christians in Africa already know that Islamic extremists will not hesitate to end a believer's life even inside a church.

"News of the murdered priest in Normandy has shaken many to the core," Open Doors USA president and CEO David Curry said, according to Fox News. "While in Nigeria, an average of five churches are attacked every Sunday."

Open Doors USA reported that more than 2,000 African churches were attacked in 2015 alone, leading to the death of more than 7,000 Christians.

Barnabas Fund, an organization that helps distribute aid to Christians, said in a report released this month that at least 133 Christians in Nigeria have been murdered by Fulani Muslim herdsmen since June of this year.

Among these was Bridget Agbahime, the wife of a pastor based in Kano State, who was beheaded by a group of Muslims in broad daylight while her husband watched. The group claimed she insulted Muhammad.

Another pastor's wife was murdered while she was sharing the gospel in her community less than a month after Agbahime was killed.

Just a few days later, a large group of more than 100 Muslims attacked a church in Nigeria.

A local pastor said the attacks are a form of jihad. He said the attackers have advanced weapons and sometimes even use chemical weapons.

The attacks often happen when people let their guard down, especially at night.

"They clearly have an agenda: to wipe out [the] Christian presence and take over the land," the pastor said, according to Barnabas Fund.

In 2015, another Nigerian pastor, the Rev. Samuel Dali, said almost 8,000 of their church members have died because of the attacks.

"Seventy percent of our churches have been destroyed in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states by Boko Haram," he said, according to the Christian Post.