Killings at 'epidemic levels': Nigerian Christians slaughtered by radical Fulani herders, ISWAP terrorists

Motor bike taxis drive past Kofar Aliyu Jedo, a city gate in ancient Sokoto, northwest Nigeria on September 21, 2021. - On one of the routes taken by the camel caravans during the trans-Saharan trade era, the town of Sokoto is still, two centuries later, a major commercial crossroads for millions of people living in the far northwest of the country. Nigeria.
Motor bike taxis drive past Kofar Aliyu Jedo, a city gate in ancient Sokoto, northwest Nigeria on September 21, 2021. - On one of the routes taken by the camel caravans during the trans-Saharan trade era, the town of Sokoto is still, two centuries later, a major commercial crossroads for millions of people living in the far northwest of the country. Nigeria. | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

ABUJA, Nigeria — Suspected Fulani herdsmen killed two Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria, a day after Islamic State terrorists allegedly killed two others in the city of Kano last Saturday, sources said.

In northern Nigeria’s Kano state, suspected members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) shot the two Christians to death at about 8 p.m. local time on Sept. 25 in the state capital, said area resident Chukwudi Iwuchukwu.

He identified the slain Christians as Ifeanyi Ilechukwu, 41, and Chibuke Emannuel, 33. Iwuchukwu said ISWAP terrorists approached them at their shop in Kano city’s predominantly Christian area of Sabon Gari in Fagge County.

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“The terrorists came to the business shop of Ifeanyi Ilechukwu, where the Christians were sitting, and shot them at close range,” Iwuchukwu told Morning Star News in a text message. “Ilechukwu died instantly, while Emannuel, who was shot in his leg, died in the hospital on Sunday.”

The killing followed a Sept. 18 bomb attack on a Christian-owned business in Taraba state’s Jalingo town, in northeast Nigeria, by suspected ISWAP members. The terrorists detonated an Improvised Explosive Device on the shop in the ATC area of the city in Ardo Kola County at about 9:30 p.m., damaging some shops and residential buildings, said area resident James Galvo.

Three Christians were in the shop at the time — Henry Boyi, a woman identified only as Christiana and a young girl, he said.

“Although the woman, little girl and Boyi were injured and taken to the hospital, no life was lost in the incident,” Galvo said in a text message to Morning Star News. “But the entire shop was destroyed in an attack that was the fourth such attack in the past eight months.”

The explosion damaged the adjacent home of Samuel Ayodele, he said.

A spokesman for the Taraba State Police Command, Usman Abdullahi, confirmed the bombing and said officers were investigating.

Plateau state killings

In central Nigeria’s Plateau state, suspected Fulani herdsmen killed one Christian in Riyom County and another in Mangu County, on Sept. 25, sources said. A Christian woman in Riyom County was also killed on Sept. 19.

Alpha Pam Baren, 23, was ambushed and killed in Bangai village, Riyom County, at about 2:20 p.m. local time that same day, said Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN). Baren, his father and others had spotted herds of cattle grazing on their rice farm and went to drive them out, Mwantiri said.

“On their way returning back to their village, while Baren’s colleagues had gone ahead, unknown to him some Fulani herdsmen had hid themselves in a nearby bush, waiting to ambush him,” Mwantiri said. “The herdsmen ambushed him and stabbed him.”

Baren was rescued and taken to Vom Christian Hospital, a facility of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), where he died, Mwantiri said, adding that such attacks are part of an attempted genocide.

“This is an all-encompassing strategy of wiping the entire Christian population from our ancestral land and the face of the Earth,” he said. “So far, more than 600 farmlands in Christian communities of Heipang, Gashish, Ropp, Wereng, Kwi, Jol, Bachi, Rahoss, Foron, Gyel, Vwang, and Kuru, with crops worth $462,396 (over 200 million naira), have been destroyed by the herdsmen in the past five months.”

In Jannaret village, Mangu County, “herdsmen and bandits” staged an attack at about 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 25, killing one Christian, Linus Mapack, and wounding two others, area resident Yusuf Charles said.

“They shot at anyone in sight,” Charles told Morning Star News in a text message. “It was during this sporadic shooting that a Christian was killed, and two others were injured. Some days back also, another Christian was also shot dead in Chanso village, another Christian community.”

In Tangur village, Bokkos County, suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped a Christian also on Sept. 25, an area resident said.

“Fulani herdsmen have kidnapped one Jerry Fwankis, a Christian in Bokkos Local Government Area,” area resident John Akans told Morning Star News in a text message. “We are deeply saddened by this incident. These onslaughts by armed herdsmen have assumed epidemic levels and need to be contained urgently by Nigeria’s security agencies.”

In predominanty Christian Tal village, Pankshin County, local community leader Nanleng Gotus was kidnapped at about 1 a.m. Monday, said area resident Joshua Gofwen.

“The Fulani herdsmen and armed bandits abducted the community leader, Nanleng Gotus, at gunpoint,” Gofwen told Morning Star News in a text message. “His abductors have already communicated with his family and are demanding a ransom of $115,600 (50 million naira).”

In Mere village, Riyom County, “a group of Fulani militias” on Sept. 19 ambushed and killed a Christian woman as she worked on her farm, Mwantiri said. Laraba Dauda was 60 years old.

“The Christian woman had gone to her farm but didn’t return home,” Mwantiri said. “Other villagers were alerted by her family, and a search party from the village went out in search of her. The search party was attacked by the herdsmen in the bush forcing them to retreat back to the village.”

The following morning, the search party went back to the farm and found her corpse, he said.

“She was slaughtered by the herdsmen, as her corpse had a cut on her neck,” he said. “The corpse of the woman was recovered by the search party, assisted by soldiers who were alerted by villagers about the killing of the woman.”

Dauda’s funeral was held on Sept. 20 at the building of the COCIN church in Mere village, Mwantiri said.

“The Christian villagers lamented how they’ve been attacked incessantly by the herders, and their crops on their farms destroyed by these herdsmen,” he said.

In Rizek village, Jos East County, suspected herdsmen on Sept. 21 attacked two homes, kidnapping a woman and teenage girl, an area resident said.

“The gunmen attacked the village at about 11 p.m.,” Augustine Ajik told Morning Star News in a text message. “During the attack, the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Hassan, a member of  ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] Plateau Church in Gwafan area and a staff member of Jos University Teaching Hospital, was invaded, and her daughter, a 14-year-old girl, was kidnapped, while the other members of her family escaped.”

The assailants also broke into a second house in the Gwafan area and kidnapped a Christian woman, Ajik said.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021,) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.

Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

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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