November 27, 2023 (Morning Star News)
Suspected Fulani herders and other terrorists on Friday (November 24) attacked villages in Taraba State, Nigeria, killing at least 10 Christians, sources said.
The assailants attacked an area from the Yangtu Special Development Area near Takum to villages in Ussa County at about 6 p.m., area residents said.
“Rampaging Muslim bandits on the evening of Friday, November 24 attacked and killed over 10 Christians in some communities in Yangtu Development Area and Ussa Local Government Area,” area resident John Chinyang said in a text message to Morning Star News. “The bandits launched attacks against Rubur Ribasi, Nyicwu, and Ruwah communities of the Yangtu Special Development Area.”
Another resident, Yakubu Tinya, said “the terrorists” shot at anyone they saw.
“They killed some of of of of the Christians while they were returning from their farms, while they killed others in their houses in the affected villages,” Tinya said in a text message.
Peter Shamwun, a member of the Ussa Local Council, said Kpambo Yashe in Ussa County was attacked.
“There have been issues of Fulani bandits’ attacks in our area, and they’re constantly attacking our villages,” Shamwun told Morning Star News in a text message. “The bandits also laid siege along Takum-Ussa road and other areas around the Yangtu community, where they killed many more Christians. And these terrorists have been attacking our communities without restraint from security agents.”
The attacks have brought untold misery and hardship to area Christians, he said.
“More worrisome is the fact that Christians are being attacked as they work on their farms,” Shamwun said. “We are at the mercy of these herdsmen, bandits, and terrorists.”
Usman Abdullahi, the spokesman for the Taraba State Police Command, said police had verified only ten killed on Friday (November 24), including nine identified as Hope Hassan, Rimamsomtse Lamadi, Holiness Enoch, Rimamtsiki Enoch, Egwu Hassan, Saleh Kyatiki, Ephraim Atenji, Manasseh Atenji and Hassan Songure.
Residents said they attacked five predominantly Christian communities: Tukwog, Kpambo Yashe, Rubur Ribasi, Nyicwu, and Ruwah. One resident, Ure Caleb, said they killed 20 Christians in attacks on Ussa County and the Yangtu Special Development Area near Takum. In contrast, another, Thomas Samuel, said they killed 10 Christians in Takum and Ussa counties.
Samuel reported in a text message that these Christians were killed at about 6 p.m. “They killed some of them as they were on their way back from their farms, while they killed others in their homes.”
Emmanuel Bello, a spokesman for Taraba Gov. Agbu Kefas, said in a press statement that the governor “has received with an utmost shock the horrific attacks on Yangtu by suspected gunmen that reportedly claimed many lives.”
“It is the latest in the dastardly acts of worrisome banditry in the area,” Bello said. “Dr. Kefas noted he was doing everything humanly possible to end such carnage in the state. He added that his recent visits to they primarily geared all security heads at Defense headquarters in Abuja towards attracting federal government support in the fight against banditry in the state.”
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married, or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most challenging to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many lineages who do not hold extremist views. Still, some Fulani adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and show a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe their desire inspires herders’ attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam, as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.