Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians to worship, Church group, Open Doors says.
In its updated World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer persecution released on Friday, Nigeria ranked number 12 among 50 countries.
The group said Nigeria and Pakistan saw the highest levels of violent persecution of Christian.
In Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, the report said, decades of climate change, desertification and population growth had fuelled conflict between nomadic Muslim Fulani cattle-herders and Christian farmers.
‘The murder of entire families in their homes has led many Christians to claim such attacks amount to a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing,’ Open Doors said.
Fears over Pakistan Christians were raised last year after 53-year-old mother Asia Bibi was banned from leaving the country while aquittal on blasphemy charges was reviewed.
Leaders of the Islamist Tehrik Labaik Ya RasoolAllah party demanded her hanging
In Myanmar, where the international focus is on the plight of Rohingya Muslims, Open Doors said that thousands of members of the mostly Christian Karen minority had been killed and 120,000 displaced.
Communist China rose 16 places to 27 on the list after the new Regulations for Religious Affairs came into force in February 2018.
Open Doors said the rules forbid children and youth from hearing sermons, forcing churches to put up signs banning under-18s from services and to close Sunday schools and nurseries.
North Korea tops the list for the 18th year running, where Open Doors claimed ‘any faith not placed in the Supreme Leader is a political crime.’
Seven of the top 10 countries on Open Doors’ list are majority Muslim countries, but the group also blamed nationalist politics for the persecution of Christians.