For Christians in 13 villages in central Nigeria, 10 days in October were marked by death and destruction at the hands of Muslim jihadists.
A total of 48 Christians were killed and 249 homes were wrecked from Oct. 8 to 17 in attacks in Nigeria’s Plateau state by militant Muslim Fulani cattle herders in collaboration with “armed terrorists,” reported Morning Star News, which specializes in reporting persecution of Christians worldwide.
Christians make up a little more than 51 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north account for 45 percent. Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
A church elder witnessed the Muslim Fulani herdsmen storm into his village of Zanwrua at 11 p.m. the night of Oct. 13, shooting in all directions, a Morning Star News correspondent in Nigeria reported.
“Every one of us ran to save his life,” said Dauda Samuel Kadiya, 38, of the Evangelical Church Winning All. “I was shot at, but the bullet only bruised my hand. You can see the wound yourself.”
Kadiya said hundreds of Christians in villages in the area have been displaced and some of their church buildings were destroyed by the attackers.
Another resident of the Zanwrua, 62-year-old Agado Aura, said he and his wife narrowly escaped death.
“They broke the doors to our rooms and then set fire on my house,” Aura said. “Having set fire on my house, they went to the next house and did the same. They continued burning houses until they were done. … I was watching all they were doing from my hidden spot behind those rocks you see over there.”
Semi-nomadic Fulani herders and farmers have killed thousands of people in Nigeria over the past two decades. The Fulanis claim they are defending themselves from attacks rooted in conflicts over resources, while Nigerian Christian leaders — noting the Fulanis played a key role in the revival of Islam in Nigeria — believe they are engaged in the same global jihad waged by Boko Haram in the northeast of the country.
Boko Haram, which is allied with ISIS, has been engaged in an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009. Ranked as the world’s deadliest in 2015 by the Global Terrorism Index, the jihadist movement has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people from their homes since the insurgency began in 200.
Survivors of the attack this month told Morning Star News that two Christians were killed in Hukke, one in Kpachudu, two in Nzhweruvo, one in Tafigana, six in Taegbe, one in Chuvorivireh, four in Aribakwa, one in Arichaka and 30 in Nkyie Doghwro, which was attacked twice.
“We have continually woken up to news of attacks each day leaving tears, sorrow, despair and apprehension,” Sunday Abdu, president of the Community Development Association of the predominantly Christian Irigwe ethnic group, said at a press conference in Abuja.
In September, Morning Star News reported 20 Christians were massacred by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Plateau state.
“It is painful to note that all these happened despite useful, timely information provided to security personnel, regarding movement and mode of operation of the assailants,” Abdu said.
In a new report titled “Persecuted and Forgotten?” the U.K. office of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need says the persecution of Christians reached a new high between 2015 and 2017 as groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram stepped up attacks, reported the Catholic Herald.
Yet, the report says, the United Nations and the international community are largely ignoring the persecution, failing, for example, “to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.”
“If Christian organisations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East,” the report said.
In Iraq, more than half of the country’s Christian population became internal refugees, the report noted. In Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which until 2011 was home to the largest Christian community, the number of Christians dropped from 150,000 to 35,000 by spring 2017, a fall of more than 75 percent.
WND reported earlier this month an adviser to President Trump, Johnnie Moore, has published a new book of testimonies of persecuted Christians, “The Martyr’s Oath: Living for the Jesus They’re Willing to Die For,” which includes first-hand accounts of Nigerian Christians.
One was from Rose in northeast Nigeria, where members Boko Haram burst into her home. Her husband fought off the jihadists with his gun but eventually ran out of bullets.
“They came in and ordered him to lie down. That’s when they cut off my husband’s head entirely, then our children’s heads,” Rose said. “I crouched as though I was going to lie down, but then I took off running. I was six months pregnant and didn’t feel well.”
It got worse for Rose. The jihadists caught up to her. They offered her a way out – to simply deny Jesus and declare her allegiance to Allah – but she refused. Her neck was sliced with a sword and she was left for dead, only to be found miraculously alive two days later when health workers were clearing away corpses.
Moore noted that for all the talk about Iraq and Syria, more Christians were killed in Nigeria last year than in any other country. And it’s often been pointed out that there were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined.
Open Doors International has conservatively estimated that more than 7,100 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015. That figure is nearly double the number killed in 2014 and more than triple the number killed in 2013.