The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for attacks on several Christian villages last month in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.
Between May 23 and May 31, six villages were attacked by Muslim extremists, leaving at least eight people dead. Four Christians were among those who were murdered, according to persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.
Following the attacks, ISIS released photographs of six decapitated bodies, as well as images of the burned villages, several media outlets reported.
The attacks in the country's northern Cabo Delgado province began in 2017 when Islamic extremists started an insurgency that was largely put down last year by an African multinational military force with troops provided by the 16 member countries of the Southern African Development Community.
Due to the increased violence in the region, the United Nations said 10,000 people have fled from the area just in the last week, according to Agence France-Presse.
"I've already left with my family, but I haven't harvested my fields yet. I'll have to come back once it's safe," Antonio Kalimuka told AFP.
Since 2017, more than 4,000 people have been killed in Mozambique, according to the watchdog group The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
Last week, the U.S. government announced $29.5 million in aid for Mozambique through the U.N.'s World Food Program. Over the last five years, the U.S. has sent a total of $207 million to support 940,000 conflict-affected people in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and Niassam, according to the U.N.
Nigerian Churches Have Become 'Targets' of Armed Extremists
Meanwhile, attacks by Islamic extremists against Christians continue in other areas of Africa, too. As CBN News reported, gunmen attacked two churches in rural northwestern Nigeria on Sunday, killing three people, witnesses and a state official said, weeks after a similar attack in the West African nation left 40 worshippers dead.
The attack in the Kajuru area of Kaduna State targeted four villages, resulting in the abduction of an unspecified number of residents and the destruction of houses before the assailants managed to escape, locals said.
It wasn't immediately clear who was behind the attack on the Kaduna churches, the Associated Press reported. Much of Nigeria has struggled with security issues, with Kaduna as one of the worst-hit states. At least 32 people were killed in the Kajuru area last week in an attack that lasted for hours across four villages.
Worshippers were attending the church service at the Maranatha Baptist Church and at St. Moses Catholic Church in the Rubu community of Kaduna on Sunday morning when "they (the assailants) just came and surrounded the churches" both located in the same area, said Usman Danladi, who lives nearby.
"Before they (worshippers) noticed, they were already terrorizing them; some began attacking inside the church then others proceeded to other areas," Danladi said. He added that "most of the victims kidnapped are from the Baptist (church) while the three killed were Catholics."
The Christian Association of Nigeria condemned Sunday's attacks and said churches in Nigeria have clearly become "targets" of armed extremists.
"It is very unfortunate that when we are yet to come out of the mourning of those killed in Owo two Sundays ago, another one has happened in Kaduna," Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the association's spokesman, told the AP.
As CBN News reported in April, Nigeria is now the country with the highest number of attacks by the Islamic State or ISIS terrorist group, according to statistics released by Jihad Analytics, a data processing agency on terrorism.
This surge in IS attacks shows that Nigeria has exceeded the likes of Iraq, Syria, and other war-stricken Middle East countries.
The findings by Jihad Analytics show that Nigeria has faced a total of 162 Islamic State attacks since Jan. 2022, while Iraq has recorded 120.
Over the last several years, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. The country ranks 7th on Open Doors USA's 2022 World Watch List, with the organization calling the persecution in Nigeria "brutally violent."
Violence by Islamic extremists also continues in northern Burkina Faso, where gunmen killed at least 55 people earlier this month.
Suspected militants targeted civilians in Seytenga in Seno province, government spokesman Wendkouni Joel Lionel Bilgo said at a news conference. While the government put the official toll at 55, others put the figure far higher.
Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are soaring in Burkina Faso, particularly in the north. Jihadists killed at least 160 people in an attack in Solhan town last July.