Hundreds of Christians killed in 3 weeks of attacks in Nigerian county; 28 churches destroyed

Christians in Nigeria take part in funerals in April 2019.
Christians in Nigeria take part in funerals in April 2019. | Intersociety

At least 300 Christians have been massacred in one county of Plateau state, Nigeria, since mid-May, including the killing of two pastors on Sunday, sources said.

In Mangu County, Fulani terrorists killed the Rev. Shadrack Ayuba of the Assembly of God Nigeria church in Ntin Kombun village and the Rev. Mangmwos Tangshak Daniel of the Nigeria Baptist Convention in Kantoma village, said the Rev. Timothy Daluk, chairman of the Mangu Local Government Area Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Pastor Daluk said in an interview with Morning Star News in Mangu town on Tuesday that since mid-May, Fulani terrorists have killed 300 Christians, displaced 30,000 residents, destroyed 28 church buildings and 2,000 houses and looted 150 trailer loads of grains in the Mangu Local Government Area.

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Residents of the county’s Ajin village, near Panya town, said that on Sunday night, Fulani terrorists destroyed homes and a worship church building of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN).

“Christians in this village who survived the attacks have been displaced,” area resident Moses Ayuba said in a text message to Morning Star News.

The Rev. Emmanuel Haruna, chairman of the Mangu District Church Council of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), said that he knew of 49 Christians killed “by terrorists and herdsmen” in Mangu County on May 16.

“Kindly pray with us for God’s intervention,” Pastor Haruna said.

The Rev. Jacob Dashop, chairman of the Provincial Church Council, Gindiri, of the COCIN, said that from May 15 to May 17, more than 200 Christians were killed in Fulani herdsmen attacks on the Mangu LGA villages of Kubwat-Bwai, Fungzai-Bwai, Aloghom-Mangu, Ntam-Mangu, Ligit-lubang/Sabon Layi-Bungha, Jwakji- Panyam, Washna-Panyam, Jwak-Maitumbi-Halle, Murish-Halle, Kikyau-Halle Danhausa-Halle, Gongong-Halle, Gyambwas-Halle, Kyampuus, Ntul-Halle, Gwet-Pushit, Jwakchom-Pushit, Larkas-Pushit, Jwak Ras-Mangu, Kantoma and Gaude.

“Christians killed in Fungzai-Mangu village by Fulani terrorists are mostly women and children; they were buried in a mass grave on Tuesday, 16 May,” Pastor Dashop said.

The Rev. Amos Mohzo, president of the COCIN, visited displaced Christians in camps in Mangu town following the attacks.

“This is our encouragement to you – don’t be afraid,” Pastor Mohzo told them. “You that are alive, this is not the time to fear; follow the instructions of both community and spiritual leaders and be courageous. The Lord will be with you.”

He encouraged survivors to let the devastating attacks test and strengthen their faith.

“We as your church leaders are with you at this difficult moment. The Lord is your strength, and He alone can meet your needs and expectations during this period,” Pastor Mohzo said.

He also told area COCIN pastors to encourage their churches, find strength in prayer and worship and pour out their hearts before the Lord.

“Pray for protection, restoration and healing for your communities and for the local churches,” he said. “Let us not put our hope on how much weapons we can get to defend ourselves, because our weapon is in Christ. If God will make Samson, just with a jaw of a donkey, to destroy a whole community, that God is still alive. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.”

The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the ECWA, said that many Christians were still missing as a result of the attacks on Christians in Mangu County.

“This is an unfortunate and mindless situation where innocent Christians are being killed,” Pastor Panya said in a press statement. “We, the church leaders and spiritual fathers, are calling on the government and all security agencies to immediately stop this ongoing massacre and its spread to more communities.”

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.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit's mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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