Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist militants killed seven Christians in Christmas Eve attacks in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, according to area residents, while two people were reportedly killed in neighboring Adamawa state.
Residents of the villages of Pemi and Debro, near Chibok, Borno state said the insurgents were members of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, and that the militants burned a Church of the Brethren (EYN) building in Pemi. In addition, seven people were reportedly kidnapped, including a pastor.
Across the border in neighboring Adamawa state, residents of Garkida told Morning Star News that Boko Haram attacked at the same time on Dec. 24, but that Nigerian army forces repelled them. Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, however, released a statement on Christmas Day saying two civilians had been killed in the attack, including a 5-year-old boy, before soldiers drove the rebels away.
In Borno state, the jihadists began their attacks on predominantly Christian Pemi and Debro at about 6 p.m., area residents said.
“Seven Christians were killed at Pemi, and the church building of EYN was completely burned by them,” area resident Awiya Lawan told Morning Star News by text message. “Houses, cars and stores were burned down. The Boko Haram gunmen carried out the attacks for three hours before soldiers arrived at the area at 9 p.m.”
Peter Solomon, another resident of the area, also said that heavily armed Boko Haram rebels, who seek to establish sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, killed seven Christians.
“The Boko Haram attackers destroyed the church building of EYN and looted foods from many houses before burning about 10 houses in Pemi, which is located about 20 kilometers [12 miles] away from Chibok town,” Solomon said
In Adamawa state, the attack by suspected Boko Haram militants forced Christians to halt Christmas preparations and flee into bushes to escape, area residents said.
“Garkida town in Adamawa state is under a massive attack,” area resident Joel Bahago said in a text message to Morning Star News. “Please pray for us, as this isn’t how we planned for Christmas, Lord.”
Another area resident, Rhoda Yadiwutuwa, said in a text message on Christmas Day that Nigeria’s armed forces had repelled the assailants but that most of the residents were still hiding in bushes and nearby hills.
“It is well with us people of Garkida, we shall hold our peace, because victory belongs to our God and Lord, Jesus Christ,” Yadiwutuwa said.
Markus Bulus wrote in a Christmas Day text that area resident were thankful.
“Whatever Boko Haram planned against us has failed,” Bulu said. “Whatever it is, we shall still celebrate Christmas. Jesus, we’re so grateful this day even with the bad experience we had last night. We have nothing to offer as our thanksgiving, but we offer our hearts in deep supplication to your majesty on this Christmas Day.”
Terror in Kaduna
In north-central Nigeria, a series of attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen across three counties of southern Kaduna state earlier this month killed 33 Christians, destroyed 18 homes and displaced more than 2,500 people, Christian leaders told Morning Star News.
On Dec. 17 in Zangon-Kataf County, the herdsmen killed at least 10 Christians in Goran Gan village and destroyed 18 homes, and on Dec. 21 they killed three others at Ungwan Jatau and Ungwan Gimba villages, area residents told Morning Star News in text messages.
Sule Tinat Bodam, general secretary of the Atyap Community Development Association and a Christian community leader in Zangon-Kataf, confirmed the attacks.
“On Dec. 17, the Gora Gan community was attacked by armed gunmen suspected to be Fulani militias on motorcycles,” Bodam said. “The attack left over seven people dead, and over 17 houses were burnt down. The Sheyin family was wiped out almost completely by the attackers.”
He identified those killed as Ayuba Sheyin, 69; his wife Jummai Sheyin, 55; their son Saviour Sheyin, 14; son Goodluck Sheyin, 11; daughter Patience Sheyin, 5; Peter Akau, 70; Joel Ishaya, 35; and Binta Musa Tauna, 85. In addition, 16-year-old Henry Jonathan was hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
“The Sheyin family lived just in front of the primary school where the military, meant to secure the village after previous attacks, are stationed,” Bodam said.
Luka Biniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), added in a Dec. 21 press statement that three more corpses had been recovered, bringing the number of Christians killed in Gora Gan to at least 10.
SOKAPU executives visited a camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Zonkwa, Zangon-Kataf County, where 2,500 Christian women and children were taking refuge after raids by armed herdsmen, Biniyat said.
Also in Zangon-Kataf County on Dec. 19, herdsmen killed four Christians in four other villages: Ungwan Gaiya, Ungwan Gimba, Ungwan Makama and Apimbu, according to state Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Commissioner Samuel Aruwan.
“The military confirmed that two houses were burned in the Apimbu attack,” Aruwan said.
In Chikun County, herdsmen on Tuesday (Dec. 22) killed seven Christians and wounded four in Gbaja village and killed two more Christians in Ungwan Gwaiva, area sources said.
In Kajuru County, herdsmen killed three Christians in Kujeni village on Tuesday (Dec. 22), sources said.
The Rev. Ali Buba Lamido, archbishop of Kaduna Province of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), issued a statement on Thursday (Dec. 24) expressing concern over kidnappings that have accompanied the killing.
“Kidnapping has become the order of the day as these kidnappers get into people’s houses and abduct them without any resistance or challenge from the security agents,” Lamido said. “Many people have been abducted, and a lot of millions of naira were paid as ransom. Those kidnapped were subjected to dehumanizing conditions and traumatizing experiences. Some family members of the those kidnapped were shot while trying to escape from the kidnappers.”
On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for further investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.
On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.