ABUJA, Nigeria, January 8, 2024 (Christian Daily International–Morning Star News) – Suspected Fulani terrorists on Wednesday (Jan. 3) killed 41 Christians and kidnapped many others in two counties of southern Kaduna state, Nigeria, sources said.
The assailants in the early morning attacked Dokan Karji, Ungwan Sako and Kunkurai villages in the Dawaki area of Kauru County and Gefe village in Kajuru County, area resident Sunday Isuwa said.
“The attacks in Kauru claimed the lives of 17 Christians, and those in Kajuru claimed the lives of 24 Christians,” Isuwa told Morning Star News in a text message.
Another resident, Samaila Musa, said in a text message, “The terrorists who were armed with deadly weapons invaded the communities, killing children, women, men and the elderly who were unable to escape from the attackers.”
The Rev. Joseph John Hayab, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, said in a press statement on Friday (Jan. 5) that the attacks were “the handiwork of evil bandits and terrorists who have been attacking our communities without relenting.”
“We are appealing to the governor of Kaduna state and Nigeria’s security agencies not to relent but ensure that these evil-doers are brought to face the wrath of the laws of our country,” Hayab said.
Police confirmed the attacks and said officers were making efforts to curtail them.
A former Dawaki Ward council member, Aminu Khalid, told Nigerian news outlet Punch that the assailants entered the communities on foot and took up vantage positions.
“The terrorists always come from parts of Kajuru and Kachia forest, where their camp is,” Khalid told Punch. “The camp is situated at Dutsen Magunguna, in Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.”
The Nigerian military has raided the terrorist camp, but nearby communities never experience peace, he added.
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.
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