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The late Rev. Iliya Anto
Photo: Morning Star News

On March 21st, assailants kidnapped three church leaders at gunpoint after storming the church prayer camp site in Kaduna, north-central Nigeria, where the clergymen were supervising preparations for an Easter church service. With the use of a mobile phone that was owned by one of the seized pastors, the kidnappers made an outgoing call in demand of ransom.

Rev. Iliya Anto, thought to have been previously released by the kidnappers because of ill health, was found dead in the bush ten days after the abduction. Details of his death remain unclear. The other two pastors, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev. Yakubu Dzarma, were released on March 30th.

According to published reports, it appears that well-armed cattle rustlers in Nigeria's Kaduna state, formerly reputed for incidences of rape and pillaging over the years, have recently turned to kidnapping. Police officials in northern Kaduna reportedly announced that they have set up a special task force to tackle the "change of tactics by the bandits."

For other reports on persecution in Nigeria, go to our online country report.

Please pray for the believers of this church in Kaduna as they mourn the loss of their dear pastor and friend, Rev. Iliya. Ask God to also minister to the pastor's grieving family, surrounding them with the comforting presence and peace of our Lord Jesus. May He guide the investigations and strategies of the police as they try to solve the mystery of Rev. Iliya's sudden passing and deal with the new tactics of the cattle rustlers. Ask that the officers of this case be granted wisdom as they navigate the best way to handle the assailants, in hopes of achieving resolution and a peaceful cease of conflict.