Mother, Baby among Christians Slain in Plateau State, Nigeria 

More than 30 killed in Fulani raids.

Plateau state, Nigeria. (Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

Plateau state, Nigeria. (Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Christian Daily InternationalMorning Star News) – A single bullet killed a young mother and the baby strapped to her back, two of the more than 30 Christians killed in Plateau state, Nigeria in the past two weeks, sources said.

In predominantly Christian Kopnanle village, Bokkos County, more than 50 Fulani herdsmen on April 12 attacked unarmed residents, said community leader Farmasum Fuddang.

“The victims include a 12-month-old girl, Peret Sylvanus, who was brutally killed by the same bullet that killed her mother, Mwanret Sylvanus,” Fuddang said in a press statement. “The bullet pierced through Mrs. Sylvanus’ stomach and hit little Peret, who was strapped to her back, killing both of them instantly.”

They were among 10 Christians killed in the village, he said. The assailants slaughtered about 20 other Christians in Mandung-Mushu and surrounding communities, said Fuddang, an attorney.

“Under the cover of darkness, more than 50 armed Fulani terrorists descended upon the villages of Mandung-Mushu and Kopnanle, targeting innocent, unarmed, and peaceful Christian residents as they slept,” he said.

After the April 12 assaults on Mandung-Mushu village and Kopnanle in Tangur District, the assailants attacked Kopyal village the following day, killing five Christians, Fuddang said.

“The herdsmen carried out these attacks against Christians unchallenged,” he said. “They also attacked Manduk and Njukudel Christian communities, where they injured one Christian, and then proceeded to attack Mandarken village before moving also to Nghahtigut village, where they killed two Christians.”

The attacks also extended to the predominantly Christian communities of Josho village in Daffo District, he said.

“The herdsmen set fire to homes and a place of worship, a church worship building, mercilessly gunning down fleeing Christians while nearby soldiers failed to intervene effectively,” Fuddang said. “These brazen attacks, which predominantly targeted Christians, including women and children, appear to be part of a calculated effort to instill fear and perpetrate further displacement within our communities.”

Fuddang added that in spite of Nigerian authorities “acknowledging that the Fulani were responsible for the six-day attack that claimed the lives of over 300 Christians last Christmas Eve, no effort has been made by Nigeria government to curtail these attacks.”

On Thursday (April 18) in Chikam, another predominantly Christian village, gunmen killed several people, including Christian second-year university student Dading James Jordan, said Yakubu Ayuba, registrar at Plateau State University, Bokkos, in a press statement.

“Gunmen on the night of Thursday, April 18, attacked Chikam, a neighboring Christian community to Plateau State University, Bokkos, killing one of our students, Dading Jordan, a 200-level student and a Christian,” Ayuba said. “In view of this sad development, management has declared a two-day mourning, from Friday, April 19, to Saturday, April 20.”

Ayuba urged officials to increase security around the university in order to secure staff members and students.

Regarding the April 12 attacks, area resident Isaac Makut also stated that “Fulani Muslim militias” killed about 30 Christians in the villages.

In February also in Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen killed a Christian and kidnapped his wife, said Mai Katako village resident Kefas Mallau. Sule Gwamnati was slain on Feb. 16, and his wife Blessing Gwamnati was kidnapped from Mai Katako.

“In the early hours of Friday, Feb. 16, a Christian by the name of Sule Gwamnati of Mai Katako village was shot twice by armed herdsmen, who also kidnapped his wife, Blessing Sule,” said Mallau, a community leader, in a text message to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The victim, Sule Gwamnati, later died at the Jos University Teaching Hospital after treatment had commenced.”

Luther Dafwang, brother of Blessing Gwamnati, said the couple were members of the Assembly of God Church.

“Sule Gwamnati died, but we can’t trace the whereabouts of his wife,” Dafwang said. “Please, help us pray.”

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.

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