Although the U.S. State Department has finally designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) (after four years of intense pressure from the Nigeria Task Force of which IRD’s Religious Liberty Program is a founding member), they continue to deny the specific targeting of Christians by both Boko Haram and by the Fulani “herdsmen” who were killing Christians in northern Nigeria long before Boko Haram was even founded!
In one of the most recent attacks, that took place on Friday night, March 14, into the morning hours of Saturday, March 15, the “herdsmen’s” attack was described to the Nigerian newspaper Sunday Vanguard by a survivor from Ugwar Sankwai village, and related by the Barnabas Fund: “They fired into homes. As women and children scampered to escape, they were shot and later cut with machetes. They then set our homes on fire. If you stayed inside, you were burnt. If you run out, they shoot at you.” Faith McDonnell
Our friends at BosNewsLife write about the most recent killings of northern Nigerian Christians.
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Nigerian Christians were mourning their deaths Friday, March 21, as the full extend of Islamic militant attacks against them became clear, with at least 150 people killed since last weekend.
The most recent separate attacks involved Boko Haram, which fights for an Islamic state, and gunmen believed to be part of Fulani herdsmen who had a long-standing feud with Christian landowners.
Both attacks over the weekend in Kaduna state claimed the lives of nearly 150 people, according to fresh estimates.
The “Boko Haram terrorist group continues to carry out brutal attacks, seemingly without any resistance, despite the military enforced state of emergency. In the latest incident, churches were burned and Christians were killed,” said International Christian Concern (ICC), a major advocacy group investigating the incidents.
“The scale of these attacks is so great that more than 400 were killed in Boko Haram related attacks in the month of February alone.”
Yet, the Fulani herdsmen attack is also troubling since it is becoming far more than just herdsmen fighting over access to pasture land or water, ICC explained. “Instead, they are intentionally decimating entire Christian villages.”
Besides the attack in Kaduna, Fulani herdsmen attacked Christians in Nigeria’s Taraba state killing 35, Nigerian media reported.
The herdsmen reportedly burned properties, including a Catholic church, in several villages in the Takum local government area of Taraba State.
Elsewhere Islamist militants attacked late Sunday night and Monday morning, March 16-17, a predominantly Christian village in Borno state, killing at least two people, Christians said.
Scores of gunmen believed to be members of the insurgent Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, raided the village of Pela Birni, a remote Christian enclave in the Hawul Local Government Area in the southern part of Muslim-majority Borno state in Nigeria’s northeast, sources said.
The assailants set two church buildings ablaze, one belonging to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) and the other to the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), along with many homes, killing two Christians in those specific attacks church leaders said.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has come under local and international pressure to improve protection of Christians and other groups targeted in several areas of the African nation.
“The inability of the government and military to provide protection for Christians is inexcusable,” complained Todd Daniels, the regional manager for ICC.
“While certainly there are challenges, the military needs to devote substantial resources to seeing this process brought to an end,” he told BosNewsLife in a statement.
He also expressed concern over reports of “various government officials being involved in supporting various groups as a means of gaining political” leverage.
“These sorts of acts raise serious questions concerning both the integrity and the aptitude of the Nigerian politicians,” Daniels warned.
“The result has been that Christians have been left vulnerable to repeated, systematic acts of violence throughout the country.”