Terrorists kill 28 in three Christian villages

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Fulani herdsmen killed 28 Christians from April 20 to April 22 in an area of Benue state, Nigeria, residents said.

“Some groups of Muslim Fulanis have attacked three Christian villages in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue state,” said area resident Florence Aaka, who said 28 Christians were killed.

Henry Agba, chairman of the Gwer West Local Government Council, said armed herdsmen killed the Christians in Mbabwande village, Gyaluwa village and a community along Naka/Adoka Road.

“These attacks started on Saturday, April 20, when six of the Christian victims were ambushed by the herdsmen at Mbabwande village, where they had gone for the burial of a Christian who died in the area,” Agba told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News.

Herdsmen killed 14 Christians at Gyaluwa on April 21 at about 11 p.m., he said, adding that the next day, they attacked the Christian community along Naka/Adoka Road.

“So far, Christian villagers have recovered the 28 corpses of Christians killed during these attacks,” Agba said. “Furthermore, dozens of other Christians were wounded and are currently receiving treatment in some hospitals.”

The assailants have also kidnapped several people in the Gwer area, he said. Six Christians kidnapped near the Naka Highway on Tuesday (April 30), including one identified as Matthew Chile, his wife and four siblings, were released on Sunday (May 5) after relatives paid a ransom, said Victor Torsar Ormin, a former member of Nigeria’s National Assembly.

“[Chile’s] captors, who are Fulani herdsmen who had demanded a ransom of 50 million naira [US$36,150], released him at about 8 p.m.,” Ormin said in a press statement.

Tse Vanger, a spokesman for Chile’s employer, Benue State University, Makurdi, had confirmed the kidnappings, saying the six Christians were ambushed and abducted from a Toyota Corolla near Naka town.

Police spokesperson Catherine Anene said investigations in the Gwer raids were underway and security agents had been deployed to the areas.

Benue Gov. Hyacinth Alia condemned the attacks, saying they were carried out by “herdsmen who maim and kill innocent citizens in cold blood and for unfounded reasons. We cannot watch our people killed daily on their farmlands and their villages for a cause very unknown to us.”

Nigeria remained the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

In the 2024 WWL of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as it was in 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 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. — Morning Star News

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