NIGERIA: LATEST ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN VILLAGES CLAIM 168 LIVES
By Andrew Boyd
Fulani militants have attacked Christian villages in Mangu, central Nigeria. The latest wave of attacks on some 30 villages began on May 16 and killed at least 125. Similar attacks over the same period claimed another 43 lives. Partners of UK-based Release International have been providing emergency relief aid.
Children were killed and injured during the attack on Mangu. Among them 8-month-old baby, Precious Mani. Precious was shot twice but survived. Her parents and five siblings were among the dead in the attack on Nbun Ward in May.
One survivor from the village of Jwakom, told Release International’s partners: ‘We saw people running and started to hear consistent gunshots. Our men told us to go. We all fled. We barely survived.’
Names have been omitted for these witnesses’ protection.
The only doctor in one village said the first victims were brought to his small hospital on May 23. He said: ‘We lost two from extensive gunshot injuries. One had a wound which went in one side of his chest and came out the other. He died. Another with bullet wounds to the neck also died.’
The doctor described the hospital as inundated. ‘Simple things like gloves, sutures, antibiotics, items for those with machete wounds – we have exhausted them all.’
Release International partners Stefanos Foundation have given medical supplies to the hospital.
A mother whose oldest child was killed in the attack said: ‘We started hearing gunshots in the night at around midnight. My grandmother and the girl who stays with me were killed, along with my first born. My 5-year-old has been seriously wounded, too. He’s in great pain.
Attackers were neighbour.
She identified the attackers as militant Fulani herders. ‘They are our neighbours,’ she said. ‘Our house is just besides theirs. They called my son by name.’
Another woman also identified the attackers as Fulani militants. She prays for God to change their hearts: ‘God, please meet them wherever they are, this is my prayer. Because if they don’t have changed hearts, they will continue in wickedness. I’ve never known people to be wicked like this. It shocked me.’
UK-based Release International has launched a major campaign to help victims of the violence in Nigeria, called Out of these ashes. Speakers from Nigeria and elsewhere will be live streamed from Eastbourne on June 29, which is designated internationally as Day of the Christian Martyr.
Addressing the event about the situation in Nigeria will be the Venerable Mark Mukan, Director of Mission Operations at the Anglican Diocese of Jos. Rev Mukan trains Christian pastors and church leaders to serve the people of Nigeria even under attack.
The latest attacks in Mangu are part of an escalation in violence which has been continuing for 20 years, says Release International partner, Archbishop Ben Kwashi.
He says: ‘We have come to another season of constant attacks on Christian villages and Christian people in central Nigeria. In April, in Benue, attacks left over 134 people dead, in systematic, calculated, well-planned killings, targeted at people who are either asleep or in their farms.
‘The consistency with which these attacks have gone for nearly 20 years is a sad commentary on the leadership of Nigeria, who do not care about the poor and vulnerable, especially farmers in the villages.
‘We as Christians in the Middle Belt in northern Nigeria are asking for concerted prayer because the devastation is beyond human ability to bear. Please also pray that the church will preach the gospel of salvation.’
1000+ killed in 2023
According to Nigerian NGO Intersociety, 1080 Christians have been killed in attacks in the first quarter of 2023 alone. In the previous year, 5100 were killed in attacks by Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa, and Fulani militants.
More information can be found at www.releaseinternational.org