The latest development in the ongoing violent assault against Christians in Nigeria occurred in Plateau state, located in central Nigeria. Throughout September and October, repeated attacks against Christian communities left at least 75 dead.
Our partners on the ground, Stefanos Foundation, reported on the attacks and interviewed the victims. Throughout the course of the violence, 12 villages were attacked. In addition to the casualties, 489 homes were burned, and 13,726 persons were displaced. The victims identified the perpetrators as Fulani Militants.
Stefanos Foundation interviewed some victims to learn about the attacks.
“When we heard rumors about the planned Fulani herdsmen attack on our community, we sought refuge in my in-law’s house. While we were asleep, we then heard gunshots around the house. The Fulani militants had surrounded our house shooting sporadically and a bullet got me on the cheek.”
The assailants then set their house on fire, but Lisa was able to escape through a window. Lisa lost 5 family members in the attack.
Villagers often get some kind of tip off before an attack will occur. Friday was with Nigerian soldiers in his village before an imminent attack hoping they would provide direction and protection. However, he soon realized they were not to be trusted.
“Some people came out from a particular house because of the gunshots and ran to the soldiers for help, who told them to join the others in the classroom. However, I advised the people not to go into the classroom, but they did anyway. So I laid down in the grasses with the soldiers, as we were lying down on the ground I saw one of the soldiers pointing his hand, directing the Fulani militants towards the classroom where the villagers are… The soldiers withdrew from the scene, the militants then surrounded the classroom, some stayed close to a window, and some stayed close to the door and opened fire on the people, killing almost everyone in the classroom except for two who survived with serious gunshot injuries.”
Chris was on his way with his family to a hiding place, when he turned back to retrieve a bag from their house. When he got to the house, he saw armed men and screamed for his family to run. The attackers shot Chris and hacked his head with a machete. He was left to die. His family searched the next morning for what they thought would be his dead body. Instead they found him clinging to life and rushed him to the hospital. All the houses in their village were burnt down.
For some time, there have been growing tensions between the Fulani herdsmen who are mostly and Muslim, and the farming communities, who are largely Christians. However, in recent years it appears that some Fulani members have become violent and potentially even radicalized. This has caused the tensions to evolve into deadly attacks against the Christian farming communities. The attackers have been named Fulani Militants.
We ask you to pray for the following:
- That the attacks would cease, and the communities would find ways to restore peace.
- That the Nigerian government would provide effective security measures and bring the perpetrators to justice.
- That the victimized communities would not participate in retaliatory attacks.