Multiple attacks by suspected Fulani militants have left dozens dead in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
6 April 2020
The coronavirus lockdown is bringing fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians. They’re not just dealing with the outbreak of the disease and the economic implications of lockdown, devastating though both these things are. Christians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamic militants.
Last week, suspected Fulani militants conducted multiple raids on villages in two states north of the capital, Kaduna and Plateau States, killing 32 believers. Villagers were obeying local state directives to keep to their homes, to prevent the spread of the virus, and Christians believe that the attacks were part of a wider agenda to uproot them from the area.
“Around 10pm, the Fulani gunmen arrived in the community and started shooting and burning houses, an operation which lasted till 1am,” said chairman of the Miango Youth Development Association, Mr. Nuhu Nkali in Ancha, Plateau State. As well as the tragic deaths, Nkali added that many people’s homes were destroyed: “So many of our people are now homeless, because their houses have been burnt by the assailants.” Crucial food reserves were also ruined.
In the attacks in Kperie, also in Plateau, militants returned to kill mourners the day after their initial assault. Women and children were among those murdered.
“These are horrific, opportunistic attacks on people who are defenceless in their homes during lockdown,” said Jo Newhouse, a regional spokesperson for Open Doors. "The government needs to ensure the safety of all Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdowns and to address the impunity with which attacks continue in certain areas, especially.”
Calling security agents to account, one community leader has said the attack on his village, which saw a pregnant woman killed, ‘could have been prevented’. “We don’t know what we have done to warrant this wickedness against our people,” said Nkali.
“The community made efforts to alert security agents, but nothing was done to prevent it,”
Newhouse added. “If people are going to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to feel safe from terrible attacks like this.”
Nigeria is number 12 on the World Watch List, and also the country where the most Christians are killed each year. Northern and central Nigeria are the worst affected regions, and attacks like this happen frequently. While Christian communities stay inside to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they are even more vulnerable to these sorts of attacks, and less likely to be able to earn money for food.
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Lord, please protect our Nigerian brothers and sisters as they face extreme persecution. Grant dignity and peace to Christian women who have been mistreated, that they will be seen, valued and empowered to reach their God-given potential. Please convict Islamic extremists of their sin and turn them to You.
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