Islamist Gunmen in Nigeria Kill Villagers in Borno State; Fulani Slay 45 in Taraba

In prior herdsmen attack in Kaduna state, death toll could be as high as 150.

Nigerian flag (Wikipedia)

Nigerian flag (Wikipedia)

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Hours after Fulani herdsmen attacked Christians in Nigeria’s Taraba state, Islamist militants late Sunday night and Monday morning (March 16-17) attacked a predominantly Christian village in Borno state, killing at least two people.

Scores of gunmen believed to be members of the insurgent Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, raided the village of Pela Birni, a remote Christian enclave in the Hawul Local Government Area in the southern part of Muslim-majority Borno state in Nigeria’s northeast, sources said.

The assailants set two church buildings ablaze, one belonging to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) and the other to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), along with many homes, the Rev. Yusuf Balami of the EYN told Morning Star News by phone.

“The Boko Haram gunmen killed two Christians and burned two churches,” he said, adding that his own home was burned down.

Balami said the gunmen arrived at about 10 p.m. on Sunday (March 16) and attacked until the early hours of the ensuing morning. Hundreds of Christian residents fled, he said.

Other residents reportedly said the assailants, shouting “Allahu Akbar [God is Greater],” were armed with AK-47 rifles, fuel bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Andrew Usman Malgwi, chairman of the Hawul Local Government Council, confirmed the two deaths, the two church buildings burned and homes destroyed, although the names of the deceased were not immediately available.

Kaduna, Taraba Killings

While 114 of the estimated 150 people reportedly killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in three Kaduna state villages on Friday and Saturday (March 14-15) were buried in a mass grave, herdsmen from the same primarily Muslim tribe in Taraba state killed an estimated 35 Christians in attacks on Sunday (March 16).

The Fulani herdsmen attacked 10 predominantly Christian communities, burning down a Catholic church building in Ikyo village in the Takum Local Government  Area of Taraba state. Also attacked in the area were the villages of Agwaza, Kokonbo, Azer, Lijam, Akesa, Tyow Doshima, Tse Saka and Kwaghlando.

A representative in Jos of the Universal Reformed Christian Church (Nongu u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar, or NKST) told Morning Star News that victims of the attacks in Taraba (officially a northern state) belonged to the NKST.

“We feel sad as a church that our members are being targeted and hunted by Muslim Fulani gunmen,” said the Rev. Isaac Koko, pastor of the NKST in Jos. “This is pure genocide against Christians in northern Nigeria, and we as a church are forced to speak out against these unprovoked attacks. As we call for prayers from Christian brethren for our members, we also urge the Nigerian government to make efforts to end these senseless killings.”

Survivors reportedly said that about 70 armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked the villages from about 2 a.m. until about 10 a.m., disrupting Sunday worship services. The assault on those villages came on the heels of an attack on the nights of March 8 and 9 in the Ibi Local Government Area by armed Fulani herdsmen, 90 percent of whom are Muslim, according to Operation World. Survivors reportedly said more than 30 Fulani herdsmen invaded the area, killing 10 Christians and burning down houses.

One survivor reportedly said the assailants killed three Christians in Wurusu village and two others in Kiorkende village on March 8. Another said five other Christians were slain in Gishirin Hassan village on March 9. Ezekiel Imoh, deputy superintendent of police, confirmed the attacks.

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.

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.


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