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Over 10 Christians slain in Fulani attacks, ongoing massacres terrorize farmers

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

ABUJA, Nigeria — Suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists on Friday attacked villages in Taraba state, Nigeria, killing at least 10 Christians, sources said.

The assailants attacked an area from the Yangtu Special Development Area near Takum to villages in Ussa County at about 6 p.m., area residents said.

“Rampaging Muslim bandits on the evening of Nov. 24 attacked and killed over 10 Christians in some communities in Yangtu Development Area and Ussa Local Government Area,” area resident John Chinyang said in a text message to Morning Star News. “The bandits launched attacks against Rubur Ribasi, Nyicwu, and Ruwah communities of Yangtu Special Development Area.”

Another resident, Yakubu Tinya, said “the terrorists” shot at anyone they saw.

“Some the Christians were killed while they were returning from their farms, while others were killed in their houses in the affected villages,” Tinya said in a text message.

Peter Shamwun, a member of the Ussa Local Council, said Kpambo Yashe in Ussa County was attacked.

“There have been issues of Fulani bandits’ attacks in our area, and they’re constantly attacking our villages,” Shamwun told Morning Star News in a text message. “The bandits also laid siege along Takum-Ussa road and other areas around the Yangtu community, where they killed many more Christians. And these terrorists have been attacking our communities without restraint from security agents.”

The attacks have brought untold misery and hardship on area Christians, he said.

“More worrisome is the fact that Christians are being attacked as they work on their farms,” Shamwun said. “We are at the mercies of these herdsmen bandits and terrorists.”

Usman Abdullahi, spokesman for the Taraba State Police Command, said police had verified only 10 killed on Nov. 24, including nine, identified as Hope Hassan, Rimamsomtse Lamadi, Holiness Enoch, Rimamtsiki Enoch, Egwu Hassan, Saleh Kyatiki, Ephraim Atenji, Manasseh Atenji and Hassan Songure.

Residents said five predominantly Christian communities were attacked: Tukwog, Kpambo Yashe, Rubur Ribasi, Nyicwu and Ruwah. One resident, Ure Caleb, said 20 Christians were killed in attacks on Ussa County and the Yangtu Special Development Area near Takum, while another, Thomas Samuel, said 10 Christians were killed in Takum and Ussa counties.

“These Christians were killed at about 6 p.m.,” Samuel said in a text message. “Some of them were killed as they were on their way back from their farms, while others were killed in their homes.”

Emmanuel Bello, a spokesman for Taraba Gov. Agbu Kefas, said in a press statement that the governor “has received with utmost shock the horrific attacks on Yangtu by suspected gunmen that reportedly claimed many lives.”

“It is the latest in the dastardly acts of worrisome banditry in the area,” Bello said. “Dr. Kefas noted that he was doing everything humanly possible to bring an end to such carnage in the state. He added that his recent visits to all security heads at Defense headquarters in Abuja was primarily geared towards attracting federal government support in the fight against banditry in the state.”

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 2020 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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