In another brutal attack on Christians in Nigeria, heavily armed jihadist Fulani herdsmen stormed a village in Plateau state, killing 10 Christians, including children aged 4, 6 and 8, and set fire to 100 homes early Friday, according to reports.
The Fulani herdsmen were dressed in black, carrying sophisticated weapons and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) when they attacked Ta’agbe village in Miango District at about 1 a.m. on Friday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
“I lost my grandchildren for the sake of Christ,” a survivor, identified as Sibi Gara, was quoted as saying while recovering in a hospital.
“I slept outside on the street,” another survivor who lost six family members said.
The attack has displaced nearly 700 people, ICC added, noting that the national president of the Irigwe Youth Movement was quoted as saying that the attack appeared to be aimed at wiping Christians from the area.
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong condemned the attack, saying, “… No resources and efforts will be spared in painstakingly following up on the trail of those who derive joy in attacking and killing innocent citizens and destroying their homes and means of livelihoods,” according to Day Break.
Critics have warned that the government’s lack of action in the Middle Belt could lead to a religious “genocide” similar to those seen in Darfur or Rwanda. However, the Nigerian government has pushed back on such assertions.
Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA ranks Nigeria at No. 9 on its 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Nigeria is also recognized as a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. State Department for tolerating or engaging in severe violations of religious freedom.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration removed Nigeria from the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” despite concerns that predominantly Christian farming communities continue to face increasing violence.
Although Nigeria was added to the CPC list last December during the final months of the Trump administration, this year’s CPC list did not include Nigeria even though ICC identified the African country as one of its 2021 “Persecutors of the Year” in a report published earlier this month.
“We are troubled by Nigeria’s omission as a CPC,” said ICC President Jeff King in a statement at the time. “The Nigerian government has done almost nothing to stop the violence against Nigerian Christians, leading to continued violent persecution. In some instances, as with Kaduna’s Governor El-Rufai, the Nigerian government has even furthered the violence.”
“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 ICC, Fulani radicals have “killed more Christians in the past several years than Boko Haram and have displaced Christian farmers.”