Christians Killed As US Removes Nigeria As ‘Country of Concern’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Just days after the United States removed Nigeria’s designation as engaging in or tolerating violations of religious rights, several Christians were killed by Islamic fighters, Christians said.
Among the latest killings, heavily armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly raided a village in Nigeria’s Plateau state, killing 10 Christians, including children aged 4, 6, and 8. They also set fire to 100 homes early Friday, November 26, Christians said.
Rights activists said the Fulani herdsmen were dressed in black, carrying sophisticated weapons and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) when they attacked Ta’agbe village in Miango District.
The attack happened about 1 a.m. on Friday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported. “I lost my grandchildren for the sake of Christ,” a survivor, identified as Sibi Gara, was quoted as saying while recovering in a hospital.
“I slept outside on the street,” another survivor who lost six family members said.
The attack has displaced nearly 700 people, ICC added. The national president of the Irigwe Youth Movement was quoted as saying that the attack appeared to be aimed at wiping Christians from the area.
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong condemned the attack. In published remarks, he said: “No resources and efforts will be spared in painstakingly following up on the trail of those who derive joy in attacking and killing innocent citizens and destroying their homes and means of livelihoods.
Earlier Fulani herdsmen, who are mainly Muslim, reportedly killed two more Christian farmers in Nigeria’s Plateau state after murdering 38 Christians in the country’s Kaduna state, sources said.
“This is the sad reality Christians have been forced to live with – total carnage and genocide against us,” said Samuel Achie, president of the Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA) in Zangon Kataf County Kaduna state.
In Plateau state’s Ancha village, Bassa County, Muslim Fulani herdsmen on November 23 reportedly attacked two Christians as they worked on their farm, Christians said. Local believers identified the victims as Daniel James, 32, and Zakwe Deba, 35, members of the village Baptist Church.
Christians said the two men were shot and killed by Fulani herdsmen armed with AK-47 rifles. The attacks came after death threats, Christians said.
The bloodshed followed a massacre by Fulani herdsmen of 38 Christians in attacks on 11 communities in Kaduna state in the November 4-12 period, Worthy News learned.
Muslim Fulani militias killed one Christian in Yagbak village and 10 Christians in Ahbuyap village on November 4. The next day three Christians were murdered in Asha Awuce village, Christians said.
Soon after, four Christians in Atakjeh village were reportedly killed by the Muslim gunmen on November 6.
Local believers said the carnage continued on November 7 when four Christians were murdered in Makomurum village and one in Zamawon village.
Eight Christians were slain in Kibori on November 8, and one Christian was murdered in Magata on November 9, Christians added. That was followed by more killings the next day when one Christian was slain in Mayii village and three Christians in Shiliam, sources said.
One Christian was reportedly also killed in Mashang village on November 11 and one Christian in Sako on November 12.
The herdsmen also looted and burned homes, villagers said.
Incidents such as the mass killings in southern Kaduna state’s Zangon Kataf County have become “the new normal” for Christians in the areas, complained Achie, the ACDA chief.
“These horrific experiences have virtually become a daily affair with hardly any intervention from the Nigeria government, as in all these attacks against Christians, there’s been complete absence of security intervention,” Achie added.
Killings of Christians also happened the previous month when on October 6 when Muslim herdsmen reportedly shot dead Philip Musa, a Christian resident of Yelwa Zangam village in Jos North County.
Later on October 15, in Bassa County, Fulani herdsmen also murdered three Christians and wounded two others in Nkiendonwro village in Miango District, villagers said.
Separately on November 22 in Plateau state’s Tatu village in Barkin Ladi County, herdsmen allegedly attacked the property of Rwang Tengwong, a Christian rice farmer.
“My rice farm, measuring about two hectares, has completely been destroyed by herdsmen,” Tengwong told Morning Star News. “Me and my family are now left with nothing to survive on in the next one year, as that’s all we have.”
A similar attack occurred the previous month in Riyom County on October 23 when Fulani herdsmen ambushed three Christians, local Christians said. Ibrahim Peter, wife Felicia Peter, and Mary Ayuba were reportedly shot while returning from their farms to their homes.
The three Christians were treated at a clinic, fortunate to have sustained only minor injuries, Peter said. “Crops we farm are usually destroyed by Fulani herdsmen on Sundays when we’re holding worship services in our churches,” he added.
The herdsmen also loot and burn homes, witnesses say. Nigerians have raised concerns about what they perceive as the government’s inaction in holding terrorists accountable for the rising number of murders and kidnappings.
The violence added to questions as to why the U.S. removed Nigeria from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). The CPC designation refers to those that engage in or tolerate violations of religious freedom.
Advocacy group Christian Solidarity International (CSI) criticized the U.S. State Department for deleting Nigeria from its CPC list on November 17.
“Removing this largely symbolic sign of concern is a brazen denial of reality,” said CSI President John Eibner. “The U.S. intends to pursue its interests in western Africa through an alliance with Nigeria’s security elite, at the expense of Christians and other victims of widespread sectarian violence, “ he added.
Winner said that the situation is also dire in the country’s predominantly Christian Middle Belt region.
Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year in November 2019-October 2020, with 3,530 killed, said advocacy group Open Doors.
That is up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report.
In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.
In this year’s World Watch List of 50 nations where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time.
It jumped jumping to Number 9 from Number 12 in 2020, Open Doors said.
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