Two Christians were killed in an attack on a Baptist church service in southern Kaduna state, Nigeria on Sunday, Oct. 31, sources say.
The lethal attack on Baptist worshippers in Kakau Daji village, Chikun County, also resulted in the kidnapping of dozens of Christians from the Sunday service, church leaders said.
“Two Christians were killed in the church during the morning worship service, and many others were taken away at gunpoint by the armed Fulani herdsmen,” Ishaya Jangado, president of the Kaduna Baptist Convention, said in a text message to Morning Star News.
Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), lamented that the Nigerian government has been incapable of stopping such atrocities after years of attacks.
“Christians are being killed without respite, and the government exhibits carelessness in tackling these monsters,” Hayab said. “These evil people have troubled us for too long.”
In Jankasa village, Zangon Kataf County, Fulani herdsmen on Oct. 25 killed four Christians and wounded three others, residents said. Samuel Aruwan, commissioner of Internal and Home Affairs for Kaduna state, identified those killed as Luka Nelson, Timothy Koni, Pasi Peter and George Francis.
Wounded by gunshot were Daniel Dauda, Extra James and Henry Frances, he said. “The injured persons are now receiving treatment in hospital,” Aruwan added.
On Oct. 24 in Ungwan Taila village, Zangon Kataf County, herdsmen killed two Christians, residents said.
“The herdsmen attacked our village at about 4:30 p.m.; they were large in numbers, and they were shooting randomly as they invaded our community,” village resident Ayuba Musa said in a text message to Morning Star News. “Two of our Christian villagers were killed many others had gunshot wounds.”
The injured were receiving hospital treatment, he said. Aruwan confirmed the killings and said troops would continue search-and-rescue operations in the area.
In Lisuru Gida village, also in Zangon Kataf County, armed herdsmen on Oct. 11 killed a Baptist pastor and another Christian in an ambush said area resident Yakubu Luka said in a text message.
“The pastor stood his ground by refusing to renounce his Christian faith, even when he knew it would cost him his life,” Luka said. “He was killed alongside a member of his church. There’s no doubt that it is worth dying for Jesus Christ.”
Hayab of the Kaduna state can confirm the killings, saying he was unable to obtain the name of the pastor and the other Christian slain due to the state government cutting off telecommunication services in the area to help the military combat such crimes.
“The pastor and the second Christian victim were returning from their farm when the herdsmen ambushed and killed both of them on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021,” Haya said.
“The prevailing situation we’re experiencing is pathetic, as Christians are being killed for no justifiable cause. Something needs to be done urgently in order to arrest this ugly situation and save the lives of Christians being killed every day.”
On the same day herdsmen also killed a Christian in U/Gwaska Ikulu village, Luka said.
Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report.
In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.
In this year’s World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behaviour of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.
In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”
On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for an investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.