Boko Haram warned Christians in south-eastern Niger to flee for their lives on 11 June, according to a Barnabas contact.
Several rural Christian families fled to the city of Diffa after receiving the message “You have three days to go or you will be killed!” from the barbaric Islamist militants.
The threatening message was delivered by a freed Christian woman who was abducted from Kintchendi village by the Islamist group on 7 June.
Islamist militias have killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands during a spike in violence in the Diffa region of Niger, according to UN officials. There are an estimated 200,000 displaced people in Niger, a mixture of those displaced in Niger itself and also many who are fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency in neighbouring Nigeria.
Church ministers in Niger who work close to zones of conflict are now taking refuge with other Christians in the relative safety of the capital, Niamey, according to the contact.
“This means that no minister now lives in the premises of the church, at least in these dangerous areas. I do not know how the services take place every Sunday, but the churches are not closed,” said the contact.
Earlier this month, on 2 June, the governor of the Diffa region had ordered churches closed due to the threat of terrorist attack. In the second week of June, Niger security forces countered a terrorist attack on a church in the border area.
In related news, a minister who spent weeks in hospital after being shot three times by Islamist militants at his church in Niger on 13 May was released from hospital in early June, according to the contact.
The armed attackers raided the church in Dolbel, about 30 miles from Niger’s capital, Niamey, and shot the minister in the chest, hip and foot, before driving off in his car.
From Barnabas Fund contacts