One Christian martyred every 6 minutes in 2016 -CESNUR

One Christian was killed every six minutes for the year 2016 and Christians have become the world's most persecuted group, according to Italy's Center for Studies on New Religions.

(REUTERS / Andreea Campeanu)A woman looks at burning houses in Bossangoa, north of the capital Bangui January 2, 2014, during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic.

In an interview with the Vatican Radio, CESNUR religious study group director Massimo Introvigne said 90,000 Christians from all over the world were killed for their faith this year, which means one believer was killed every six minutes. Of those incidents, 70 percent happened during the tribal clashes in Africa.

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Of the 90,000 martyred believers, 27,000 were killed in terrorist attacks, state-sanctioned persecution, and destruction of their villages. According to Introvigne, the large number of Christian deaths may be attributed to devoted believers' refusal to take up arms.

The number of martyred Christians may be high, but Introvigne said it has gone down from 105,000 in 2015. He also noted that the report does not include data from India and China --- two countries where Christianity thrives underground.

CESNUR will release its full report on Christian persecution in January.

Meanwhile, Release International has warned that the scale of violent Christian persecution is poised to increase next year. In its annual Persecution Trends report, the group conveyed particular concern over the rising persecution from the Islamic State and governments in the Islamic world.

Aside from that, RI also spotted the significant increase in Hindu militants targeting Christians in India. China, on the other hand, is continuing its crackdown on unregistered churches.

"Around the world Christians face an increasing array of violent persecutors. These include the brutal Islamic State in the Middle East, heavily armed militants in Nigeria and Hindu extremists in India," said RI chief executive Paul Robinson. "Our report on the likely trends of persecution in 2017 is a wake-up call to take our prayers and practical support for our persecuted family to a new level."

The refugee crisis borne out of ISIS atrocities in the Middle East will reportedly most likely continue in 2017, RI predicts. This is because ISIS and its supporters have vowed to continue attacking Christian communities even though the militant group has already lost large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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