Most of the victims were in their homes sleeping when the attacks began … when Muslim Fulani militant herdsmen began their killing spree in Nigeria that lasted four days, Thursday through Sunday evening and into Monday.
In only days, a dozen villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state were wiped out. The affected communities surround the city of Jos—known as the epicenter of Christianity in northern Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
As many as 200 Christians had been killed, however, some residents fear the death toll may be even higher, as more bodies are yet to be recovered, while others were burned beyond recognition. On Sunday, 75 of the victims were buried in a mass grave.
We are still gathering information about the violence, but the details we have so far reveal the scale and brutality of the attacks:
- 120 people who were attending the funerals of an elderly member were hacked to death as they returned home.
- In another attack, in Gana Ropp village, a pastor, Rev. Musa Choji, was killed, as were his wife and son.
- In Gidin Akwati, the whole community was burned down. Local sources say that some of those displaced are still hiding in the bush, as they haven’t yet been able to find their way to a safe haven.
- A pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) denomination, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that following an attack on Saturday, his entire village was reduced to ashes, and more than 100 people lost their lives.
The ECWA pastor said more than 50 heavily armed Fulani herdsmen surrounded the village of Nghar, in Gashes district, at around 3:30 a.m. They burned down all the houses, as well as two churches. Only a few people were able to escape.
His wife’s family was decimated. The assailants killed 14 members of her family, including her mother and sister. Others who had come to visit them were also killed. In total, 27 people lost their lives in the same house. They were all burned to death. Only one person—his wife’s younger brother—survived, as he managed to escape through the roof.
World Watch Monitor reports that on the day of the attack in Nghar, only two soldiers and one policeman were in the village, but they reportedly ran for their lives when the herdsmen launched their attack.
Attacks Were Peak of Ongoing Violence
Reportedly, the violence in the attacked areas has been happening for the last two weeks. Over the weekend, the violence reached a peak. Pastor Steve Kwol, chairman of the Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria for Plateau North, which includes the attacked areas, said that herdsmen were ambushing people going to their farms or traveling on their motorbikes.
Since Thursday, the herdsmen had launched “very serious attacks” on the whole communities, he said. Despite the current dusk-to-dawn curfew and the presence of military, the attacks are still ongoing, he says. Two villages—Kwi and Dorowa—were badly damaged on Monday.
In Dorowa, most of the properties were burned down, including four church buildings. The adjoining buildings, such as pastors’ houses, were also destroyed by fire.
In Kwi, a number of buildings, including churches, were also set on fire. The exact number of people killed there is not yet known, but many were displaced and are now living in camps in neighboring villages.
“We’ve been living peacefully with [Fulani herdsmen]” Pastor Kwol said. “Since this crisis started in Plateau in recent months, our people have not killed one Fulani man. Instead, they have been killing our people one by one. We just buried them and carried on.” he said. As a result of the ongoing insecurity, there are places where people can no longer go to farm,” he said, “because when they go, the Fulani will come and take their cows, or attack them.”
“Just two weeks ago, they shot my wife’s young brother. But he survived. He was discharged on Wednesday and had returned home on Thursday, only to get killed in the last attack, on Saturday.”
‘It’s part of a grand plan to Islamize Nigeria’
The attacks have some local sources saying that the ongoing violence is part of a “grand plan to Islamize Nigeria.”
“The killings are becoming no longer herder and farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, who also denounced the attack on a Bible school that trained African missionaries in Gana-Ropp village.
Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Jos and founder of the Citizens Monitoriing Group working with Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, notes that the violence is part of a pattern, an emerging genda, saying that it is “another Boko Haram in disguise.”
The same Fulani people who have been living in peace with farmers suddenly have changed from using sticks to tend their cows, all of a sudden going to the farmlands, killing Christian farmers. their wives and children, surrounding whole villages. It’s a pointer … because Plateau state is the epicenter of Christianity.”
Watch as he shares: