Radical Fulani kill over 150 Christians; 3 pastors among the slain in spate of attacks

2023-06-27 18:01:00

The Christian Post

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Fulani terrorists in Plateau state, Nigeria, killed more than 150 Christians in the first three weeks of June, including a church pastor, sources said.

The killing of the Rev. Nichodemus Kim of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Gana-Ropp, Barkin Ladi County on June 11 brought to three the number of pastors slain in recent attacks in Plateau state.

Plateau Gov. Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang last week issued a statement confirming the killings.

"Conservatively, in the last three weeks, we have buried not less than 150 people in Mangu Local Government Area," he said. "And this is aside from not less than 30,000 people scattered in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps that we are having to deal with now."

Residents of Mangu, Barkin Ladi and Riyom counties said the terrorists destroyed dozens of houses belonging to Christians, along with a COCIN worship building, in the first three weeks of the month.

Fulani terrorists on June 20 attacked Mangu, Riyom and Barkin counties, killing 15 people in the predominantly Christian communities of Bwoi and Chisu, said area resident Bamshak Ishaya.

"The attackers of our villages are Muslims who are Fulani herdsmen," Ishaya said in a text message to Morning Star News. "They attacked our villages of Bwoi and Chisu while we were sleeping at about 11 p.m. The herdsmen burned down our houses, including a church worship building of the COCIN and the offices of the COCIN Regional Council in Bwoi. Some of the Christian victims were burned alive in their houses as the herdsmen set fire to their houses."

Markus Artu, a member of the Mangu Local Government Council, confirmed the attacks in a press statement, as did Bala Fwangje, the legislator representing the area in the Plateau State House of Assembly.

"All I can say is that war has been declared on Christians in Mangu," Fwangje said. "The terrorists are just attacking and killing Christians in most of the communities around Mangu. The attacks started on June 20, in the Bwoi community, and then spread to Mangu town and Sabon Gari areas. Christians here really need help."

Also on June 20, in Riyom County, herdsmen ambushed and killed six Christians in Rahoss-Sambak village as mourners transported the corpse of an accident victim to their village for burial, said area resident Christopher Pam.

"There was an accident involving a Christian villager from Rahoss-Sambak village," Pam said. "Some members of our community had gone to convey the corpse of the victim back to the village for burial at about 7 p.m. when armed Muslim Fulanis ambushed them. Six of them were killed during the ambush."

On June 18 in Barkin Ladi County, herdsmen killed 20 people in the predominantly Christian villages of Kak, Ranyam, Nging, Lohala and Buka, while two others were killed in Mangu town, Mangu County, area residents said.

Herdsmen attacks on Barkin Ladi had begun the night of June 17 in Rawuru, where 13 Christians were killed, said area resident Solomon Dalyop.

Herdsmen on June 11 killed 21 Christians in Riyom and Barkin Ladi countries, said area community leader Rwang Tengwong.

"Twenty one Christians were killed and several others injured on Sunday [June 11] during coordinated attacks by Fulani militias on residents of Rim, Jol and Kwi communities of Riyom LGA, as well as Gana-Ropp community in Barkin Ladi LGA," Tengwong said.

Tengwong, spokesman of the Community Development Association of the affected communities, said two Christians were killed in Rim village, seven were killed in Jol and 11 were killed in Kwi village, besides the killing of Pastor Kim in Gana-Ropp, Barkin Ladi County.

"The attacks on Rim, Jol and Kwi were simultaneously coordinated by the terrorists between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.," Tengwong said. "In Kwi, an entire community, Hei-Gwe, was completely burned down, and over 100 farmlands destroyed."

Pastor Kim was killed at about 8 p.m. in his home by Fulani herdsmen, he said.

"It is a great concern that these communities, especially Rim, Jol and Kwi, have come under attacks severally in the past two weeks," Tengwong said.

Alabo Alfred, spokesman for the Plateau State Police Command, confirmed the slayings.

"The command is saddened by these killings," Alfred told Morning Star News. "We don't want more deaths in Plateau state."

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors' 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.

In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.

"Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery," the WWL report noted. "This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation. ... Nigeria's government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians' rights are carried out with impunity."

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom's All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.

"They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity," the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria's Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians' lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

2023-06-27 News