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Mormons indefinitely close Nigeria temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has indefinitely

closed its Aba Nigeria Temple as a precautionary measure because of

recent violence and has evacuated temple workers to other areas.

"The

safety of our temple visitors and workers is always our first concern,"

said LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter. "Incidents of violence in

recent months in the area where the temple is situated are not

necessarily related to the temple but could put church members at risk.

As a precautionary measure, temple workers have been moved to other

areas, and the temple has been closed while the situation is being

addressed."

In its Wednesday

edition, the Ogden Standard-Examiner reported receiving a mid-June

e-mail from a Nigeria temple worker reporting four gunmen carrying

AK-47s and shooting in the area of the temple.

Bullets from the shooting struck the guard house on the temple grounds.

The temple has been closed since the mid-June incident.

Located

in the outskirts of Aba, the temple's complex includes a stake center

and administration office. The temple was dedicated Aug. 7, 2005, by

President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Two

years ago, the LDS Church was the target of another round of violence

in Nigeria, as four missionaries were kidnapped near Port Harcourt.

With scores of foreign oil company employees kidnapped for ransom in

early 2007, the four Nigerian missionaries were soon released with the

help of local church leaders.

The

LDS Church first began proselytizing in Nigeria in 1978. Less than a

decade later, membership approached 10,000 in 1987. Ten years after

that, as the church was approaching having 100,000 members on the

African continent, Nigeria's LDS membership was 30,300.


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com