ABUJA, Nigeria — In 11 days of attacks through Wednesday, Fulani herdsmen killed 18 people and wounded others in predominantly Christian villages of Plateau state, Nigeria, sources said.
The herdsmen attacked 11 communities in Jos South, Riyom, Barkin-Ladi, Mangu and Bokkos counties.
Three Christians in Darwat village were wounded in attacks as they worked on their farms on Wednesday, Dalyop Solomon Mwamtiri, an attorney with the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), said in a press statement.
“The attackers were identified by Christian victims as Fulani terrorists,” said Mwamtiri, adding that “Gyang Danbwrang, Joshua Gyang and Mark Gyang were shot and injured by the terrorists.”
The Rev. Gwong Dachollom of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Darwat was ambushed, shot and cut with a machete along the Darwat-Wereng Camp route at about 3 p.m. on Monday, area resident Rwang Tengwong said.
“The pastor was hacked and his motorcycle carted away by his attackers,” Tengwong said in a message to Morning Star News, adding that his injuries are life-threatening. “He’s presently receiving medical attention at Vom Christian Hospital of the COCIN.”
In Farin Lamba village of Jos South Local Government Area, Fulani terrorists killed six Christians on Tuesday, said area resident Ron Thomas Gyang in a message to Morning Star News.
Mwamtiri said in his statement that while the “burial of the six Christians killed [April 25] at Farin Lamba of Turu in Vwang was ongoing, another tragic incident of armed attack was carried out against Christians in Gako community in Riyom LGA, where a Polytechnic graduate, Mr. Philip Bitrus, was shot dead by Fulani militias.”
Tengwong said that on Sunday night, “Fulani militias” killed six Christians and wounded two others “during coordinated attacks on residents of Wereng community and Bachi District of Riyom LGA as well as Tapo village of Heipang District in Barkin Ladi LGA.”
“Two Christians were killed in Wereng village of Riyom Local Government Area, while the other four persons were killed in Tapo village of Heipang in Barkin Ladi LGA,” Tengwong said.
The attacks were simultaneously coordinated between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., he said.
“In Wereng, a household was attacked, leaving one family member dead, and a second family member was ambushed while he was on his way to Kwi community. In Tapo, nine Christians were ambushed by the terrorists while they were on their way from another village. Four of them were killed, while five of them escaped with injuries.”
Survivors said the assailants spoke Fulfulde, he said.
“They laid an ambush at Tapo forest and sporadically opened gunfire at them,” Tengwong said. “These Christians were returning home from Heipang, the District headquarters in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.”
He gave the name of one of the Christians killed as Tapshak Guwus, 24, a student at the Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin Ladi.
Area community leader Shwamut Ishaku Elisha said in a message to Morning Star News that five Christians were killed and dozens of houses burned down in Murish, Dungmunan and Manja villages of Mangu County in attacks at about midnight on April 16.
Mwamtiri of the ECCVN confirmed killings of Christians this month in the Murish community of Mangu LGA, Marish and Maitunbi villages of Bokkos LGA, Kuru Station in Wereng and Kwi of Riyom LGA, Rawuru of Fan and Tapo of Heipang in Barkin Ladi LGA, and Farin Lamba of Turu-Vwang of Jos South LGA.
“The dastardly acts of terrorism unleashed by suspected Fulani militias in Plateau state have continued to claim lives, destruction of property including home and farmed crops on daily bases,” Mwamtiri said.
Alfred Alabo, spokesman for the Plateau State Command, confirmed the attacks in response to Morning Star News inquires.
“I can confirm these attacks and want to say that security personnel have been deployed to ensure normalcy is restored in the affected communities,” Alabo said.
Makut Macham, spokesman for the office of the Plateau state governor, also recognized the attacks.
“These attacks are another attempt to reintroduce the era of violence and crises which have been largely contained due to the government’s huge investment in security, peace building and reconciliation,” Macha said. “While commiserating with those who lost their lives and properties, the governor directed the Peace Building Agency and the State Emergency Management Agency to immediately reach out to the victims with support.”
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 recent 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.
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