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One Christian died for his faith every six minutes in 2016

(Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)An Iraqi Christian police attends the first Sunday mass at the Grand Immaculate Church since it was recaptured from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul in Iraq.

About 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016. That translates to one death every six minutes of the previous year.

The figures were revealed by Massimo Introvigne, director of the Centre for Studies and New Religions (CESNUR), in a recent interview with Vatican Radio. The numbers will be included in the statistics that will be published by the Center for Study of Global Christianity.

Introvigne further shared that Christians killed in tribal conflicts in Africa represent 70 percent of the total Christian deaths because of faith in 2016. The center considered such cases because the Christians died after their conscience could not take it to engage in a lethal fight.

The other 30 percent represent those who were slain in terrorist attacks, in the ransack of Christian villages, and in government persecution such as in North Korea.

Introvigne noted that the CESNUR's figures are much higher than the numbers generated by studies of other U.S. research centers, but he offered that it's because they counted "people who are killed in a broad sense" and not just those who were given a choice of "either deny your faith or perish."

Open Doors, for example, estimates that only 7,000 Christians were slain for their faith, but Open Doors Director of Communication Emily Fuentes explained, in an email to The Christian Post, "This is an extremely conservative estimate, as we only track those we have confirmed details about name, location, etc."

CESNUR's numbers, however, appear to be in line with what Bishop John McAreavy, chair of the council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference, told the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, back in 2015, as reported by The Christian Post. Citing findings by Pew Research and International Society for Human rights, he reported that Christians are being persecuted in 110 countries and that at least 100,000 Christians are killed yearly for their faith.

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