By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - Islamist militants in Nigeria's restive north have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.
On Tuesday, the country's military took the fight to Boko Haram's stronghold, killing 13 suspected combatants.
Read more: Nigeria guilty of abuses in pursuing Boko Haram militants
Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria's far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.
The task force condemned alleged Boko Haram attacks going back to July 2012 in a statement, calling them "incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings." These included attacks on mosques, churches and businesses.
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) –China Daily, an English-language newspaper and a mouthpiece of the Chinese government, last week published an article called “Western Voices Question Tibetan Self-Immolation Acts.”
The first of the voices quoted was mine—for a Belief Blog piece I wrote last summer criticizing the Dalai Lama for averting his gaze from the spate of self-immolations protesting Chinese rule in Tibet. "If the Dalai Lama were to speak out unequivocally against these deaths, they would surely stop. So in a very real sense, their blood is on his hands," I wrote in a passage quoted in the Chinese Daily piece.
In my post, I wrote of an “epidemic of self-immolations,” noting that from mid-March to mid-July 2011 more than 40 Tibetans had set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Since then, the pace of these protests has accelerated. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, 94 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011, and the pace in November was nearly one a day.
By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
Photo credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
CNN: Googling the Dead Sea Scrolls
Tania Treiger pulls on her tight blue gloves and picks up her tweezers, preparing for the extraordinary job she has been hired to do. She is one of only five conservators in the entire world allowed to handle one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century. Treiger’s job is to help conserve and record the more than 2,000-year-old pieces of parchment that make up Dead Sea Scrolls. The work she and many others are doing now is making it possible for anyone around the world with access to the Internet to see and study the scrolls.
Photo credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
Iranian women look at the window of a shop selling Christmas ornaments in Tehran on December 23, 2012.
CNN: Iranians seek relief in Christmas celebrations
Iran has a population that is 98% Muslim, and the government is widely recognized for its repressive rulings, censorship and efforts to cut ties with the United States and the West, but more Iranians are openly celebrating Christmas and expressing their desires to be part of the global celebration.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.