Nigeria: 4 killed at pastor’s home in jihadist attack

Protesters gather during a demonstration against Fulani herdsmen killings, in Abuja, Nigeria March 16, 2017.
Protesters gather during a demonstration against Fulani herdsmen killings, in Abuja, Nigeria March 16, 2017. | REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The pastor of an evangelical church in north-central Nigeria and three members of his congregation, including a 10-year-old boy, were shot dead by radical Fulani herdsmen, according to a Christian persecution watchdog.

The attack took place at the house of Pastor Matthew Tagwai of Evangelical Church Winning All in the village of Ngbra Zongo near the Miango area in Plateau State’s Bassa County on the night of April 7, according to Morning Star News.

“The attack was carried out by armed herdsmen against the community,” an area resident, identified as Patience Moses, was quoted as saying. “Two other Christians … were also injured during the attack by the herdsmen, and they are currently being treated at a hospital at Dantako village.”

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The deceased pastor was 34.

“This new attack, like the ones before it, is condemnable,” said the Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, Jr., ECWA general secretary, about the killing of Christians in Plateau state and northern Nigeria. “The continuing attacks on harmless and unsuspecting Christian communities without a concrete, strategic response from our duty-bearers to protect our people leaves much to be desired.

“Let the authorities know that people do not run forever. There comes a time when they are pressed to the wall, and in such times reactions and counter-reactions will inevitably occur.”

Since the start of 2020, estimates suggest that over 400 Christians were killed in the West African country.

“In all, not less than 410 Christian lives have been lost in Nigeria to Jihadist Fulani terrorists in the past 93 days of 2020,” the Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) said in a statement

At least 50 Christians were killed in March and 10 in the first two days of April by Fulani herdsmen.

“This is on daily average of about five Christian deaths. On average, the Jihadist Fulani militants killed 125 Christians in January and February, respectively, and 50 in March,” Intersociety reported.

The killings are largely a result of increased terrorist attacks from Boko Haram splinter groups and overnight attacks carried out by Fulani herders against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

Since 2015, about 11,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria, according to Intersociety’s estimates. In 2019, between 1,000 to 1,200 Christians were killed by Fulani attackers.

Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst country in the world for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. It is one of the most deadly countries in the world for Christians. 

Because of the Nigerian government’s inability to halt societal and extremist violence and hold those accountable responsible, Nigeria was added to the U.S. State Department’s “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations for religious freedom in December.

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