By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen and bandits have killed five Christians, including a priest, in central and northern Nigeria, while another priest has been kidnapped, church officials say.
The latest killings spree of Christians began Thursday, May 20, when armed Fulani herdsmen entered Jebbu Miango village in the Miango District of Nigeria’s troubled Plateau state, local Christians said.
They reportedly killed the young Christian mother Ladi Jeffrey, 21, and nephew Shadrach Zwewhie, 19, while they were asleep at home. Ladi Jeffrey was the mother of a 16-month-old baby.
After slaying the two young people, the herdsmen invaded nearby Kpachudu village the next day, killing a Christian father of a 1-year-old and another Christian father of two children, locals added.
Ahmadu Jacob, 26, was shot at close range shortly after 9 p.m., said his cousin, Yakubu Joseph, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). “We heard gunshots, and my cousin was seated right at the spot where you’re seated now under this tree,” he said in published remarks.
“I was a few meters from the spot where my cousin was seated. He was killed instantly,” Morning Star News agency quoted him as saying. Like Joseph, Jacob was a farmer and a member of ECWA church in Kpachucu village. He leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter and his wife, Martha Ahmadu.
The assailants also shot and killed Monday Yakubu, also a member of the ECWA church, outside his house as he kept watch over the community, Joseph said.
Yakubu, 44, leaves behind his wife, Joyce Monday, and children ages 16 and 3. He added that four years ago, two other community members were killed and said some 200 villagers were forced to leave for safer areas.
Due to the violence, a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kpachudu village has been shut down, Joseph said. The ECWA and the Catholic church are the only ones serving people in the town in Miango District, Bassa County.
Separately Alphonsus Bello, a parish priest in the Malunfashi area of Nigeria’s northern Katsina State, was killed, while another priest, Joe Keke, was kidnapped by armed bandits, said Catholic Church sources monitored by Worthy News. “Bello’s lifeless body was found on a farmland behind the Catechetical Training School in Malumfashi,” added priest Mike Umoh, the national director of social communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).
In a statement, Umoh said Bello’s “tragic death” comes after another priest reported that some “fifteen bandits had attacked the parish house of St. Vincent Ferrer.”
Priests Alphonsus Bello and Joe Keke were both abducted by the group of bandits during the attack, Vatican Radio reported. The whereabouts of Keke, 75, were still unknown Monday.
Catholic sources said the kidnappers had not made contact.
The attacks have underscored broader concerns about massive kidnappings and killings of Christians in several parts of Nigeria.
Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report.
Nigeria reportedly led the world in the number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990. In this year’s World Watch List list of the countries where Open Doors says it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to number 9 from number 12 the previous year.
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