The terrorists attacked six predominantly Christian villages in Benue state’s Togo County on Friday (Sept. 23), destroying lives, houses and farms and looting homes for food, area residents said.
“These attacks by the herdsmen have left dozens of Christians dead and several more with gunshot injuries and machete attack wounds,” area resident Ukan Kurugh told Morning Star News in a text message. “Survivors of these herdsmen attacks have been taken to some hospitals, and they need urgent medical attention but lack the funds to pay for their medical bills. Some of them need urgent surgeries but they can’t afford to pay for the charges.”
Attacked were the villages of Tse Ikyem, Tsav, Tse Ijoho, Tse Ikyaan, Anawah, and Mou in Togo County, residents said. Mou was also attacked on Wednesday (Sept. 21), as was Mchia, in the same county.
“Our people have have suffered immensely in the hands of these marauding herdsmen,” Kurugh said.
Local resident Moses Teryima identified 12 of the Christians slain in Friday’s attacks as Aandohemba Msugh Aondo; Oliver Toryima Chion; Innocent Shinku Ngimsho; Mchivga Utume; Joseph Msugh Aondo Gwa; Bemdou Hundu; Luther Mchivga; Sunter Achiwan; Aondohemba Msughve; Hemhsnger Teryuega; Japheth Kwaghaondo Pinega; and Vihishima Mbanomso.
An area community leader, Joseph Anawa, confirmed that the six villages had been attacked on Friday. The Rev. Akpen Leva, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State Chapter, said in a press statemen that attacks against Christians and by herdsmen and other terrorists in the state have been ceaseless.
“Armed herdsmen and terrorists have not stopped their unprovoked attacks on Christians in Benue state,” Leva said. “These attacks are aimed at killing defenseless Christians and to force them out of their communities.”
Pastors and denominational leaders were among the victims of the attacks, he said.
“We condemn in strong terms these unprovoked attacks and loss of lives in these affected Christian communities and call on security agencies to rise up to the challenge in order to curtail the activities of these bloodthirsty herdsmen,” Leva said.
Catherine Anene, spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, said police received reports of the attacks from the Divisional Police officer of Logo.
“Our personnel have been deployed to the area to contain the situation,” she said.
15 Christians Killed
In the same county on Wednesday (Sept. 21), suspected herdsmen and other terrorists killed 15 Christians and wounded 15 others in attacks on two villages, area residents said.
Predominantly Christian Mou and Mchia villages were attacked at about midnight. Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, killed 12 Christians in Mchia village, said area resident Peter Terseer.
“Aside from the 12 Christians who lost their lives in Mchia village, eight other Christians were injured during the attack,” Terseer told Morning Star News in a text message. “They’re being treated at the Anyiin hospital.”
In Mou village, resident James Akiga said three Christians died and seven were wounded in the attack by “band of terrorists and herders.”
“The victims have gunshot wounds and machete cuts,” Akiga said in a text message to Morning Star News.
Paul Hemba, Benue state special adviser on security matters, confirmed in a press statement that 12 Christians were killed at Mchia village and three at Mou village on Wednesday (Sept. 21) at about midnight. He also confirmed that 15 Christians were wounded in the assaults.
“Also on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 21, some other Christian communities in Guma Local Government Area were attacked by the terrorists and herdsmen, but they were repelled by security agencies who were drafted there,” Hemba said. “No life was lost, nor anyone injured, in the Guma attacks.”
Military authorities in the area confirmed the attacks on the Logo and Guma areas.
“Our troops are managing the situation in Logo – some attacks had been happening around that area before now which made us to conduct a weeklong operation there about two weeks ago,” Maj. Gen. Kevin Aligbe said in a press statement. “These terrorists have killed between two and four people every three to four days. Most times we received reports that they, bandits, have attacked and retreated.”
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.
Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.
In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.
If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.