Islamic terrorists in Nigeria massacred not less than 160 people, many of them preparing for church Christmas programs, Saturday night through Christmas Day in coordinated attacks on predominantly Christian areas in Plateau State, Nigeria.
Hundreds of houses were also destroyed in the massacres that happened in villages of Barkin Ladi, Bokkos and Mangu counties, officials and residents said. The assailants killed the Rev. Solomon Gushe of Baptist Church in Dares village along with nine of his family members, said Bokkos County resident Dawzino Mallau.
“Some pastors were killed, and another pastor and his wife and five children were killed during these attacks,” Mallau told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message. “These terrorists who attacked these Christian communities were in the hundreds, and they carried out the attacks as the hapless Christians were preparing for Christmas programs lined up by their pastors.”
Most of the Christians killed were women, children, and the elderly who were unable to escape, he said.
Alfred Mashat, another resident of the Bokkos area, said hundreds of houses were destroyed.
“About 160 Christians in these villages were killed by the terrorists,” Mashat said in a text message to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “We believe they are carrying out these attacks alongside armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.”
Among the predominantly Christian villages attacked, he said, were NTV, Maiyanga, Ruku, Hurum, Darwat, Dares, Chirang, Ruwi, Yelwa, Ndun, Ngyong, Murfet, Makundary, Tamiso, Chiang, Tahore, Gawarba, Dares, Meyenga, Darwat and Butura Kampani.
Mashat identified some of the Christians killed in the attack on Maiyanga village as Sati Solomon Langweng, David Jallang, Gauis Adamu, Mafulul Langweng, Nafor James Markut, Matawal Gauis Adamu, Fidelis Solomon Jallang, Emmanuel Amos Jallang, Sule Shahu, Mildred James Markut, Maren Paul Mashok, Samuel Mamot and Machief Mangut.
Four Christians slain in Daruwat village he could identify only as Tanko, Haruna, John and Salo.
Local officials on Monday confirmed the attacks, reportedly stating that at least 160 people were slain. Monday Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos, told AFP that 113 people had been killed there in “well-coordinated” attacks in at least 20 villages.
More than 300 wounded people were rushed to hospitals in Bokkos, Jos and Barkin Ladi, he said. Dickson Chollom, a member of the state parliament, told AFP that at least 50 people were reported dead in villages in the area, while Bokkos area resident Solomon Musa told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News that the bodies of 60 Christians in the Bokkos Council area were recovered and buried.
“Another 26 corpses were buried in Barkin Ladi Council area on Christmas Day,” Musa said. “On Saturday, Dec. 23, Muslim terrorists attacked Christian villages in Bokkos Local Government Area, attacks that continued to Christmas Day.”
In Bokkos LGA’s Ruwi village, 16 Christians were killed, many others were wounded and many houses were destroyed, he said.
Alfred Alabo, spokesman for the Plateau State Police Command, said in a press statement that the assailants on Sunday night (Dec. 24) attacked 12 villages in the Bokkos LGA: Ndun, Ngyong, Murfet, Makundary, Tamiso, Chiang, Tahore, Gawarba, Dares, Meyenga, Darwat and Butura Kampani. That same hour, at about 10:45 p.m., three villages in Barkin Ladi LGA were attacked, he said: NTV, Hurum and Darawat.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in the 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.
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.