Rogue Soldier in Nigeria Allegedly Kills Infant, 5-year-old

Member of Special Task Force shoots family he was supposed to protect, relatives say.

Lyop Dangyel suffered three gunshot wounds from a rogue Muslim soldier and lost two of her three daughters. (Morning Star News photo)

Lyop Dangyel suffered three gunshot wounds and lost two of her three daughters. (Morning Star News photo)

TOROK, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The Nigerian mother of three, wounded from the same gunshot that killed her 9-month-old baby, asked her bleeding 7-year-old daughter to pray for their survival.


The Christian mother’s second daughter, 5-year-old Nancy, also lay dead in the extended family compound in central Nigeria from the shooting by a soldier allegedly from the Special Task Force (STF), the crisis unit the government has deployed to protect against Islamic extremist attacks. Lyop Dangyel, 30, lay in a pool of blood as her 7-year-old Comfort, shot in both legs, tightly held her hand.


“Dear Jesus, please save me and mom,” Comfort began, as Dangyel silently joined her in prayer that their lives would not ebb away.


Minutes later, her husband returned to find his wife, first-born daughter and 50-year-old mother wounded, along with the corpses of his infant and 5-year-old. It was about 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, March 17, in the village of Torok, 65 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Jos in central Nigeria’s Plateau state.


The family's first-born, 7-year-old Comfort, survived gunshots from the Muslim soldier to both legs. (Morning Star News photo)

The family’s first-born, 7-year-old Comfort, survived gunshots to both legs. (Morning Star News photo)

“The soldier shot me on the back, a gunshot that killed my 9-month-old baby, Miracle, whom I had on my back,” Lyop Dangyel told Morning Star News from her hospital bed. “He also shot me on my right shoulder and then on my right thigh. We were all sitting and eating together. Injured by the soldier too, is my mother in-law, Kachollom Dangyel.”


Dangyel had just finished cooking the evening meal and had taken it to a house shared by several relatives so that they could partake of it, she said at Vom Christian Hospital. Soon after they sat down to eat, they heard movements behind the kitchen. The wife of her husband’s brother said, “Who is there?” There was no answer.


“Just as she made to go there to find out what was making the movement, the soldier whom we all know is among the men of the Special Task Force stationed in the village to protect us stepped out of his hiding place,” Dangyel said. “And then suddenly, he began shooting at us.”


She identified the soldier as Abubakar Shuaibu. Police confirmed that they had received a report of an attack by STF personnel. A high school student said he was shot by a policeman on the STF security team in the March 17 attack at the family compound.


A media relations officer for the STF was not available at press time to confirm that a military member of the force was under investigation for the murders; the officer said to check back in a few days.


Dangyel’s husband, 35-year-old Dangyel Chuwang, told Morning Star News that he heard the gunfire from afar.


“I was in my brother’s house about 100 meters away from our family house when I heard sounds of gunshots,” he said. “I quickly rushed out to find out what was happening.”


En route he came upon a soldier retreating from the area, he said.


“I asked him what was happening, and he told me he didn’t know what was happening,” Chuwang said. “I asked him to come along with me to my family house, but he refused. I left him and rushed there, only to meet my wife at the point of death. She told me that it was the soldier who shot them as they were having their meal.”


He ran into the village, where a friend with a car helped to rush his wounded family members to the hospital, Chuwang said.


The attack comes after several weeks of complaints that Muslim STF soldiers are carrying out extrajudicial activities in Plateau state. Riyom Local Government Chairman Sam Audu has complained that STF forces are responsible for some of the 100 deaths and 60 wounded in the area the past six months. He and others have called for the withdrawal of STF soldiers tasked with keeping Muslim, ethnic Fulani gunmen from hit-and-run murders of predominantly Christian, ethnic Berom people.


The high school student wounded in the March 17 attack was 20-year-old Elisha Dalyop. The student at the Government Secondary School in Rim (GSS-Rim) told Morning Star News that when the soldier began shooting at them in the house, he escaped through a backdoor. A policeman serving with the STF pursued him and shot his left leg.


“I tried hiding among cactus plants a few meters from the house, but the policeman pursued me to the place and tried killing me,” he said. “I had to break through the cactus plants to escape being shot by the policeman. I ran with my injured leg in the dark through the bush for about three kilometers to a nearby village, Wereng, to get help from a man I know there.”


His friend there, Daniel Danladi, reported the attack to soldiers on patrol, and they got colleagues at Tahoss village to come to take him to the hospital, Dalyop said from his bed at Vom Christian Hospital.


Wereng Attack

Three days earlier (March 14), Islamic extremist gunmen shot another Christian high school student at GSS-Rim, Davou Gwong, in his thighs at about 2 a.m. in nearby Wereng village.


Gwong, also treated at Vom Christian Hospital, told Morning Star News that he and others from his village were keeping watch for their community as Muslim gunmen struck twice there last year.


“At about 2 a.m., we heard movements by some unknown persons towards us. So, we asked to know who was approaching us,” he said. “The response we got from the dark was, ‘Allahu Akbar [God is greater],’ and then gunshots fired at us. I was hit by a bullet on my thighs, but my colleagues escaped unhurt. The attackers retreated after they sensed that we knew they were in our village.”


Previous attacks on Wereng village took place in December and July. An elderly man with eight children, Danburang Tengwom, was killed in the December attack, Gwong said. Wereng village is about 12 kilometers (eight miles) from Riyom town, southwest of Jos.


Torok and Wereng are both predominantly Christian, with all believers belonging to the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). The Rev. Dr. Obed Dashan, general secretary of COCIN, told Morning Star News the denomination was very worried that attacks on their members have not abated in spite of the presence of security agencies in Christian villages.


“How can security agents sent to these villages turn their guns on the very people they are expected to protect?” he said. “We have heard that Muslim terrorists of the Boko Haram sect have infiltrated all security agencies. And we now hear of Muslim soldiers attacking Christian communities and killing members of our churches – this to us is not a surprise.”


Nigeria has no more security, he said.


“There is therefore no doubt that Boko Haram members are in the Army and the police, and they are the ones attacking our church members in the villages,” he said. “What is happening is that there is a deliberate plan by Muslim leaders to destroy the church in northern Nigeria.”


Besides hit-and-run attacks by Fulani Muslims, Christians in Nigeria have also been targeted by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia (Islamic law) nationwide. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside primarily in the north. Nigerians 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.


Dashan called on the Nigerian government to investigate the involvement of Muslim soldiers and policemen in attacking Christian communities.


“If our church members in the attacked communities have been able to identify some of these gunmen as soldiers and policemen posted to protect them, then they should be prosecuted,” he said. “All we demand is justice for our church members.”




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