Christian Ambassador: Peace Necessary in Nigeria

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More than 98 Nigerians have died this past week as Muslims and Christians continue to clash in Kaduna state and surrounding areas.

The attacks started June 17 when suicide bombers targeted three churches during Sunday services, killing at least 21 people.

The radical Islamist group Boko Haram took credit for the bombings, continuing its war on Christians in the country. The group wants to replace the current government with Islamic Sharia law.

"It is a very disturbing thing, very disturbing event truly," Nigerian leader Mary Lar said.

Lar served as Nigeria's Ambassador to the Netherlands from 2004-2006 and has been outspoken about the growing religious tension in her country.

Most recently, suicide bombers targeted two churches in Zaria and a church in Kaduna.

Kaduna sits on the dividing line between the Christian south and Muslim north, a region with a history of religious tension.

"I have known many leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, who have achieved so much through peaceful means and I would love to see that," Lar said.

"This approach should be re-addressed through peaceful means, because whatever cannot be achieved through peace, cannot be achieved through guns," she said.

Young Christians in both areas retaliated in response to the attacks. Lar is now urging them to turn the other cheek in future attacks.

"Our youths, I know it is painful to keep on being attacked. It is painful," she said.

"But at the same time, when the Lord sees how patient you are and when the Lord sees your heart," Lar continued. "Because the Word of God says to take a life is an abomination to God. And to take a life is not God's will."

The U.S. State Department has formally labeled three leaders of Boko Haram as terrorists. But Lar feels more should be done.

"If the U.S. is stopping at that, well I don't know whether that is one way of helping anyone," she said. "There must be a step further."

Ambassador Lar hopes that the cycle of violence can be broken.

"This is where we continue to plead with those who are into this violence," she said. "To hear the voice of mothers and (the) voice of young ones, voice of people who are less privileged to stop this violence for the good of the nation."

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