Fulani herdsmen beheaded a Christian man and his 7-year-old son and killed a pastor they had kidnapped two weeks earlier in two separate attacks in northern Nigeria, according to reports.
Thomas Wollo, 46, and his 7-year-old son, Nggwe Thomas, were beheaded by herdsmen close to their home in Tafigana village in Plateau state’s Bassa Local Government Area as they were returning from choir practice at about 8:50 p.m. on Sunday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reported.
Zongo Lawrence, the spokesman for Miango Youth Development Association, was quoted as saying that the herdsmen destroyed a large part of farmland in a nearby village after the attack.
“Seventeen of our people have been killed by Fulani herdsmen this year. The international community should come to our aid; we are under heavy siege,” Lawrence said.
In Kogi State last Thursday, the Rev. Danlami Yakwoi of the Evangelical Church Winning All died in captivity after being tortured by Fulani herdsmen, Morning Star News reported.
Yakwoi had been kidnapped along with two of his sons and a nephew in Tawari area on July 12, church secretary Musa Shekwolo was quoted as saying.
The news of the pastor’s death came after one of his children who was kidnapped was released.
Yakwoi’s family paid a ransom for the release of his son, Shekwolo said.
ICC designates Fulani radicals as the fourth-deadliest terror group globally, which has surpassed the Boko Haram terrorist group as the greatest threat to Nigerian Christians.
“Many believe that the attacks are motivated by jihadist Fulanis' desire to take over farmland and impose Islam on the population and are frustrated with the Muslim-dominated government that is believed to be enabling such atrocities,” ICC warned in May.
The Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law estimated in May that as many as 1,470 Christians were killed in Nigeria during the first four months of 2021, the highest estimate in the first four months of any year since 2014. The number also surpasses the estimated number of Christians killed in 2019. The report estimated that as many as 300 people had been killed in Kaduna in the first four months of 2021.
In the first four months of this year, the organization estimates that at least 2,200 Christians were abducted. Kaduna state recorded the highest number of abductions at 800.
The Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the third-most affected country by terrorism and reported over 22,000 deaths by acts of terror from 2001 to 2019.
Advocates, including U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Commissioner Gay Bauer, have warned that Nigeria “will move relentlessly toward a Christian genocide” if action is not taken. The U.S. State Department recognizes Nigeria as a "country of particular concern" for tolerating or engaging in severe violations of religious freedom.
Islamic extremism, notably carried out by groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province in northeast Nigeria, has led to thousands of deaths and millions displaced in recent years.