By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ABUJA (Worthy News) – Islamist militants killed a Nigerian Christian and kidnapped his sister and five other Christian girls in Nigeria’s North-East after scores of Christians were massacred in the country’s central area, aid workers say.
Christians said Godwin Luka Abari from a village in the Chibok Local Government Area (LGA) of Nigeria’s Borno State “died instantly” when the gunmen attacked him Monday, April 18.
The gunmen, members of the terror group Islamic State West Africa Province, then abducted six Christian girls, including his sister, Christians said. One of the abducted girls, who are part of the local Yimurmugza community, told a family member in a phone call that they were being held by “hundreds” of terrorists. “These people are too many,” she added in comments shared with Worthy News by the aid group Barnabas Fund.
It was the latest attack in the area where since the beginning of 2022, at least 24 Christians – the majority women and girls – were kidnapped and four men killed in assaults on three villages. Four girls were later released by their abductors, according to Christian aid workers.
Last week’s violence came days after at least 80 people were killed and more than 60 abducted as gunmen riding motorcycles attacked mainly Christian villages in Nigeria’s southern Plateau State, Worthy News learned.
Christian investigators said the attacks Sunday, April 10, also saw 115 homes razed in the raids on Kukawa, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Gyambawu, Dungur, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji, and Dadin Kowa villages.
“Many motorcycles, each one carrying three bandits, stormed the communities,” Barnabas Fund quoted a resident as saying. “This incident happened when people were clearing their farms in preparation for raining season.”
Another survivor reportedly added: “We are terrified and traumatized. It took the grace of God for some of us [to] be alive as we took to our heels and took cover in bushes.”
Barnabas Fund, which works in the region, said, “Hundreds of villagers fled their burning communities.”
A mother and her children reportedly ran through the night for five hours to reach safety in neighboring Bauchi State. “It is God’s miracle that they escaped the massacre and didn’t get killed by any wild animal,” a contact was quoted as telling Barnabas Fund.
The contact wasn’t identifier amid security concerns. “The attacks happened a week after suspected Fulani militants killed twelve people celebrating a cultural festival in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State,” Barnabas Fund added. “Our contact said that before the latest assaults on April 10, there had been friction with militant Islamist Fulanis who attacked and took over Christian communities.”
Christians say Fulani, who by their nomadic lifestyle were moving on their migratory routes seeking pasture, decided to take over Christian farming communities and settle in them.
A Barnabas Fund contact said it was clear from devastating attacks in Plateau and neighboring Kaduna State that Christians and their villages are the targets for “slow extermination.”
The government, he said, gave excuses and different narratives to “deflect, deny and defend its complicity” in the “killings of women and children” in mainly Christian villages in central Nigeria.
He asked for prayers for Christian families whose loved ones were killed or kidnapped. “Many [Christians] are being subjected to abuses,” he added. “Especially rape” is used “by the Islamist Fulani militias as a weapon.”
There were mounting concerns Friday about the many abducted Christian girls who are often forced to marry and convert to Islam, several sources confirmed.
The most notorious attack took place on April 14, 2014, when Boko Haram terrorists abducted 276 girls, mostly Christian, from a secondary school in Chibok. Around 160 girls later escaped and were rescued or released.
They reported being whipped by their captors to force them into marriage, while a group of Christian girls was subjected to a mock execution for refusing to convert to Islam.
A recent report by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) blamed the escalation of violence in Nigeria on the growth of Islamist extremism across the Sahel region.
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