(Morning Star News) – Ethnic Fulani gunmen shouting the jihadist chant “Allahu Akbar” attacked three villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state this month, burning down a church building and killing at least 10 Christians, sources said.
Heavily-armed Fulani Muslim extremists on Sept. 14 attacked the Bokkos area, shooting five members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in their homes in Mbar and burning down 15 houses and an Assemblies of God church building, said the Rev. Manasseh Duwong of the COCIN congregation in Mbar.
“They were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is greater]’ and also saying, ‘We must wipe out these infidel Christians today,’” Duwong told Morning Star News in Mbar.
Duwong identified those killed in Mbar as, “Gideon Mutang Kidum, Ladi Mafulul and two of her children, and a deaf woman by the name of Urawal.” Another church member, identified only as Rabo, was killed in nearby Mandar, he added.
Also killed in Mbar was a driver passing through the town at the time of the attack, Duwong said. The assailants also burned his vehicle. His name was not immediately available, but Duwong and two other area pastors believe he also was a Christian.
The pastor told Morning Star News that Muslim Fulani gunmen also killed two members of his church in Mbar on Sept. 7, and two more Christians the next night.
In nearby Gong village, four houses were burned.
The Rev. Moses Kungyep, secretary of the area Regional Church Council, and the Rev. Sunday Gwom of the COCIN church in Matol, confirmed the attacks. They told Morning Star News that unless the Nigerian government is able to find ways of curtailing attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, more Christian communities will be displaced.
“We appeal to the federal government to take measures to check these attacks, because our church members, whose major occupation is in farming and agricultural production, are dying of hunger, as they are not able to go to their farms because they are being attacked on their farms too by these Muslim gunmen,” Kungyep said.
Gwom said efforts by Christian leaders to reach security agencies during the assaults were futile as soldiers were unable to reach the attack sites.
“The soldiers complain of lack of equipment they need to repel these marauding Muslim Fulani gunmen who have been attacking our church members,” Gwom said. “Please, we appeal that the Nigerian government should do something about this.”
On Aug. 11 in Yelwa, where Muslim Fulani cattlemen have largely replaced Christian ethnicities over the years by means of slash-and-shoot attacks, a throng of heavily armed herdsmen attacked the remnant Christian community in the early hours, killing 14 Christians, sources said.
Yelwa is part of the Shendam Local Government Area in the southern part of Plateau state. On the same morning in Zarazong, in the Jos East Local Government Area, a group of gunmen killed two other Christians, and between the two villages 15 homes were burned down, sources said.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.
Fulani herdsmen have long attacked settled Christian farmers in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba and Adamawa states, but in the past year analysts have begun to see some ties between the assailants and Islamic extremist groups keen to exploit longstanding ethnic, property and religious conflicts.
While Muslim Fulani have historically had property disputes with Christian farmers, Christian leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to jihadist” in Nigeria.
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