Nigeria: Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill 2 Christian teenage girls as persecution escalates
Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed two young Christian women in southern Kaduna state, Nigeria, just weeks after members of the same terrorist group killed 13 and wounded three Christians in a neighboring town.
According to Morning Star News, Briget Philip, 18, and Priscilla David, 19, were killed by herdsmen on motorbikes who rode into Gora-Gan village in Zango Kataf County at about 5 p.m. shooting villagers on sight.
“Both girls, who were secondary school pupils, worshiped at the Catholic parish of Gora-Gan,” local resident Luka Biniyat told the outlet.
Also wounded in the attack on the predominantly Christian community were 18-year-old Henry Jonathan, 19-year-old Benjamin Peter, and Goodluck Andawus, 12, he said, adding that the herdsmen attacked when people flocked to the village square where evangelism and social activities are held.
“As the people fled into nearby bushes to take cover, the attackers retreated and left,” area resident Solomon John told Morning Star News. “We are sad about these attacks on our people, which seem to be unending.”
Just two weeks earlier, a gang of 20 armed Fulani Muslim herdsmen attacked the predominantly Christian village of Kulben in Central Nigeria, killing 13 and wounding three, according to Morning Star News.
All of the victims were members of the Church of Christ in Nations.
"They were shooting with guns in all directions, forcing the villagers to scamper into surrounding bushes," area resident Michael Mutding said. "Corpses of those killed have been evacuated by soldiers and police to the mortuary of Mangu Cottage Hospital, and all the victims are members of COCIN."
Audu Tetmut, a 60-year-old area leader of the Christian community, said there had never been any problem between his people and herdsmen living in the area.
"Our community had lived peacefully with the herdsmen without any issues of dispute with them," Tetmut told Morning Star News. "So we are surprised that they attacked us."
In 2019, over 1,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria as attacks by Fulani extremists continue to plague rural farming communities in the Middle Belt, according to estimates published by the U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.
There was a rise in Fulani extremist attacks in the Kaduna state in 2019 after Christians were accused of a reprisal attack on a Fulani settlement that killed as many as 131 in February.
Nomadic Fulani herdsmen “seek to replace diversity and difference with an Islamist ideology which is imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply. It is — according to the Nigerian House of Representatives — genocide,” Baroness Cox told the Christian Institute.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA ranks Nigeria at No. 12 on its 2020 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Open Doors CEO David Curry said during a news conference last week that Nigeria still represents the most violent country in the world for Christians as far as the organization’s data can track.
“I think it is wrong to look at [Fulani] as simply having territorial issues,” Curry said. “They have an ideology that is historically been radicalized and they have an agenda to push Christians out of these communities. The cover story that somehow these are their ancient lands and so forth doesn’t justify unlawful behavior against Christians who live there.”
He criticized Nigeria’s government for its inability to control the violence perpetrated by both Muslim Fulani Herdsmen and the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram across the country.
“The great tragedy of Nigeria’s ineffectual response to Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen is now parts of Cameroon and those other areas like Burkina Faso are greatly affected,” Curry said.