By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Islamic militants have hacked to death at least 10 Christians in a remote village in northeast Nigeria, bringing the death toll to some 200 Christians killed within two months, officials say.
Suspected fighters of Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is sinful’, reportedly entered Pambula-Kwamda village in Adamawa state early Friday, May 22.
“The attackers went into the village around 4:00 am [local time] while residents were still asleep and used machetes to attack their victims,” said Maina Ularamu, local government chairman of Madagali, in the north of Adamawa state.
News of the attack was monitored by BosNewsLife Tuesday, May 26, amid communications difficulties caused by an ongoing insurgency. Police also said Tuesday, May 26, that in total at least 23 people died in attacks over the weekend by a nomadic group on three villages in central Nigeria.
The violence came just days after Boko Haram was linked to a suicide attack in the Christian area of Garkida, Adamawa state, that reportedly killed nine people on May 19 and a shooting attack on May 16 in the Wagga region that claimed the of 10 Christians.
Many of those killed were members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN). The denomination claims to have lost 1,390 local church branches out of a total of 2,280, with 700,000 members being displaced.
The latest attacks came as elsewhere more than 70 Christians were murdered in the past month in Nigeria’s Plateau State, including one pastor, Christian rights activists said.
The body count has piled up after at least a half dozen attacks perpetrated by Muslim Fulani cattle herders, who share some of the radical thoughts spread by Boko Haram.
Fulani herdsmen regularly raid Christian villages opening up a hail of gunfire, burning homes and churches, and shooting their victims when they run outside to escape the fires, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
They frequently “terrorize” Christian farmers in central Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” states of Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, and others, according to advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
The deadliest occurred May 2 when herdsmen reportedly set fire to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) located in Foron town, of the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area (LGA), killing 27 Christians.
Victims included Reverend Luka Gwom and a congregant named Pauline who was married just
two weeks prior in the same church building, Christians said.
“The jihadists, in their quest to eliminate Christians in Plateau State and their thirst for blood, have succeeded in killing Christians and burning their houses,” said a local resident, identified as Gyang, in remarks published by ICC. The group said it had withheld his full name to protect his safety.
Recent raids all occurred in two areas of Plateau State, Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs.
From April 25 to May 11, Gyang reported at least six attacks on more than eight villages, some of them targeted more than once during that time span.
The violence followed attacks elsewhere in central Nigeria, including in mid-March, when
Muslim Fulani cattle herders reportedly massacred 82 Christians in a village in Benue State.
Officials have been reluctant to identify the attack as Christian persecution.
“It is the longstanding issue over grazing rights and cattle rustling between Egba and Fulani people,” police spokesman Ezeala Austin reportedly said after the March attack.
Witnesses to the assaults claimed herdsmen chanted “Allahu Akhbar” or “Allah is Great,” which has become associated with jihadist Muslim terrorism.
The herdsmen also continually and specifically target Christian villages, an ICC official said.
“The world should wake up to the forgotten persecution happening all over Nigeria’s Middle-Belt,” added ICC’s Regional Manager of Africa Troy Augustine.
“Extremist Muslim Fulani herders are regularly and consciously attacking Christian villages and slaughtering our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Augustine told BosNewsLife in a statement.
“I don’t know what else needs to be explained to acknowledge that these people are
persecuted because of their faith,” the official said.
“While the world rightly remembers and prays for Christians in northern Nigeria under threat from Boko Haram, let us not forget those who live under daily suffering at the hands of jihadists also happening in central Nigeria.”
Christians comprise at least 40 percent of Nigeria’s nearly 180 million population; 50 percent
are Muslims, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).