Suspected Fulani herdsmen killed four Christians in Plateau state on Saturday (Jan. 22), after 18 Christians were slain in another area of the state on Jan. 11, sources said.
In the two attacks, eight other Christians were reported wounded, and in one village 24 homes were burned down.
The armed assailants ambushed Christians in Dong village, on the outskirts of Jos in Jos North County, on Saturday (Jan. 22) at about 6 p.m., killing four and wounding two others, area resident Rejoice Johnson said.
“Dong, our community, has constantly been attacked by armed Muslim Fulani terrorists in the recent past,” Johnson said. “We need your prayers.”
The unprovoked attacks led to protests on Sunday (Jan. 23). Fulani herdsmen also attacked the area in May, killing seven Christians.
“Dong village has served as a place of refuge for displaced Christians since 2017,” said Yil Gonsum, an aid worker in Jos. “In 2018, hundreds of displaced Christians from Miango District fled to Dong village seeking refuge, but now both the displaced and resident Christians have severally been attacked by the herdsmen.”
On Jan. 11 in Ancha village, in Miango District of Bassa County, suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked at midnight, killing 18 Christians, after having ambushed other Christians the previous day, said area resident Danjuma Auta.
Davidson Malison, a representative of the predominantly Christian Irigwe ethnic group, confirmed the Jan. 11 killings in a press statement, noting that six of those slain were children.
“The Rigwe ethnic nationality has been visited by yet another deadly and lethal attack by Fulani terrorists (as testified by victims that survived) in the early hours of 12 midnight of Jan. 11, at Ancha village,” said Malison, spokesman for the Irigwe Development Association. “The attack, which lasted for over two hours undistracted and unchecked, led to the killing of 18 Christians, with six other Christians injured, while over 24 households with over 100 residential rooms were razed down.”
Cars, motorcycles and harvested food crops also were destroyed and many valuables stolen, he said.
Armed herdsmen are attempting to annihilate Christians in the area, Malison said. He identified the slain Christians as Andrew Bitrus, 7; Wiki Bitrus, 5; Monday Bitrus, 3 months old; Danjuma Rimbe, 10; Yohanna Musa, 17; Achi Alhaji, 16; Gideon Goh, 30; Danladi James, 26; Monday Abba, 52; Musa Tegwi, 80; Christiana Sunday, 45; Laraba Bitrus, 38; Monday B. Bitrus, 19; Moses Weyi, 21; Mbe Weyi, 21; Azumi Wreh; Danladi David Musa, 28; and Garius Gado Sunday.
Malison identified those wounded as Danlami Adams, 21; Taji Bulus Daniel, 30; Weyi, 42; Danladi James, 22; Ishya Danjuma, 36; and Monday Amadu, 26.
Killed in the Jan. 10 attack was Stephen Monday, 28, and his wife Talatu Stephen was hospitalized with serious injuries, he said.
“Again, the perpetrators are not invisible and untouchable or ghosts but Muslim Fulani herdsmen who have been fingered to be behind these dastardly acts,” Malison said. “Therefore, if rule of law is to be strictly adhered to, then these herdsmen must be brought out instantly and be subjected to face the full wrath of law.”
Christians in Ancha and nearby areas also suffered attacks on Jan. 7, Dec. 31 and Dec. 25, he said, resulting in several deaths.
“The national leadership of the Irigwe Development Association has lost words to convey the state of sadness and broken-heartedness Christians have been confined to courtesy of the acts of barbarism and callousness that have been done to us by herdsmen,” Malison said. “We have called on security agents and the government on several occasions to devise means as well as grab the political will to end the spate of carnage being unleashed on Christians, yet no concrete and tangible efforts have been made.”
Gabriel Ubah, spokesman for the Plateau State Police Commannd, said in a press statement, “We are aware of these attacks, and the police command has deployed armed policemen to the area.”
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.
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 recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] 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.