Nigeria: Fulani kidnap 46 Christians in ambush attack days after killing 32 civilians

A Christian Adara woman prays while attending the Sunday's service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna state, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019.
A Christian Adara woman prays while attending the Sunday's service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna state, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019. | LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images

Suspected Fulani herdsmen ambushed and kidnapped 46 Christians and an unknown number of their children three days after killing 32 civilians in predominantly Christian areas in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state, according to reports.

On March 17, heavily armed terrorists, suspected to be radical jihadist Fulani herdsmen, attacked Agunu Dutse village in Kachia County shortly after midnight, abducting at least 46 Christians along with their children. In a separate attack two days later, more than 100 herdsmen and Islamist terrorists killed 32 civilians in Kagoro town in Kaura County, Morning Star News reported.

Among those abducted in Agunu Dutse village, 16 are men and 30 women.

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“They trooped into our village in large numbers and began shooting indiscriminately at anyone on sight,” a resident named Philip John was quoted as saying, according to Morning Star News.

In the second attack in Kagoro, two soldiers were killed, a woman was believed to have been abducted and around 200 houses, and 32 shops were destroyed apart from all of the killings in the Tsonje, Agban, Katanga and Kadarko areas of Kagoro.

At least seven others were injured.

“My mum’s family houses were all razed down, and one of my cousins was burned to death in their house,” area resident Violet Peter was quoted as saying. “We haven’t been able to reach some of our relatives. Lord please, this is too much for us.”

The Rev. John Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said in a statement that Christians were grieving “the continued killings, kidnappings, banditry, and the unimaginable evil going on in our state unabated without any substantial action by the government and security forces.”

He added: “Kaduna state citizens are tired of the government’s rhetorical responses without concrete action taken to protect lives and property. Accordingly, we want to hear and see the killers and kidnappers arrested, as the government’s usual media condemnation whenever there is havoc is not good enough.”

Security analysts say kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative industry in Nigeria as weapons are becoming available to militants in Nigeria by way of war-torn Libya, and in Nigeria’s northeast, Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province have killed thousands and displaced millions.

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern warns that the Nigerian government “continues to deny any religious motivation behind the attacks and has recently convinced the U.S. Department of State to do the same.”

Many have raised concerns about what they perceive as the government’s inaction in holding terrorists accountable for the rising number of murders and kidnappings, which some groups warn has escalated to a genocide.

Last November, however, the Biden administration removed Nigeria from the U.S. State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern,” a designation reserved for the countries that tolerate or engage in some of the world's worst violations of religious freedom. Nigeria was added to the CPC list in December 2020 during the final months of the Trump administration. ICC identified the African country as one of its 2021 “Persecutors of the Year.”

“Nigeria is one of the deadliest places on Earth for Christians, as 50,000 to 70,000 have been killed since 2000,” the ICC Persecutor of the Year report states.

According to Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List report, at least 4,650 Christians were killed between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, up from 3,530 the previous year, and more than 2,500 Christians were kidnapped, up from 990 a year earlier.

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