Militants in Nigeria use national lockdown as cover to launch deadly attacks on Christians

A group of Christian villagers in Plateau State, Nigeria, mourn the loss of loved ones who were killed in a Fulani militant attack (PHOTO: Barnabus Aid).

Compiled from reports in Barnabas Aid and International Christian Concern.

Nineteen people were killed by Fulani militants in attacks in Plateau State, Nigeria early this month and at least eight people died in a Boko Haram attack near Auno village in Borno State on April 12.

In one Plateau State incident seven vulnerable older Christians, unable to flee as hundreds of Fulani militants attacked their village during the national COVID-19 lockdown, were burnt to death in their homes.

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More than 300 gunmen descended on the Christian village of Hukke, near Jos, in the early hours of  April 2, setting fire to at least 23 homes. The youngest of those killed was aged 67 and the oldest 90.

A Barnabas contact reported that the villagers were staying at home because of government COVID-19 restrictions when the attack came. He added that villages were left “very vulnerable” after the few security forces stationed in the area were pulled out late last month as national focus turned to combatting coronavirus.

A pastor in Hukke described the limited response of local police. “While the attack lasted for over two hours, a security force came, comprising of some policemen. They simply stopped at a distance and kept firing in the air and eventually left,” he said.

The merciless attack in Hukke came only 24 hours after a murderous onslaught by Islamist militants on the neighbouring Christian village of Ancha, on April 1. Two men and a woman were killed in a late-night attack that lasted for three hours and left 17 homes burnt out.

Also on April 1, Nkeidoro village was razed to the ground and left “desolate” in a separate militant attack that forced families to abandon the village. The Barnabas contact said at least six Christian men from Nkeidoro had been killed during the previous weeks in various attacks, including some by Fulani “scouts” armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

Armed attackers shot 50-year-old Abah Yoki in the leg before killing his two children and a local pastor in Nsah village, on April 6. The distraught father described the attack to Barnabas: “I had just come out of my house that night about 7 pm when I saw movement in the dark and asked who was there. Then I heard the gunshots. I turned and fled but a bullet hit me and I fell. There were about 19 of them on the footpath that leads to the river. I could not make out any of their faces, but I heard an order given in Fulfulde (Fulani language). I was first to be shot. They then went into the house and shot and killed two of my children – Duh, who was 30 years old, and Ishaku, who was eleven. They then moved to the pastor’s house and shot him”.

The contact warned that the numbers of Christian deaths caused by Islamist violence in Nigeria may be underestimated as incidents are not always reported. He relayed the words of a local Christian leader: “We are tired and we do not want to bother others about our tragedies. We seem always to be reporting deaths and attacks and people are weary of our reports”.

Boko Haram kills eight passengers driving along highway
Premium Times has reported that Boko Haram killed at least eight people in an attack that took place on April 12 near the village of Auno.

Travellers were driving along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway when the terrorists tried to stop them. According to the news agency, the driver of the first vehicle did not want to stop. When he tried to drive past, the terrorists opened fire on his vehicle. They were able to hit it enough to force him to stop. The extremists then forced a few vehicles to stop and made everyone get out.

Two individuals were killed on the spot. After this, they abducted another 13 people. According to new reports from the agency and locals, six more people were killed shortly after when one of the terrorist’s vehicles broke down. They killed the six abductees instead of trying to take them further. This took place less than two kilometers from the initial attack site.

Despite local’s reporting the case, the military initially tried to claim that the attack did not take place. This has allegedly been the Nigerian government’s main stance with attacks. They often try to hide them and constantly claim that Boko Haram has been defeated. This is their way of trying to lessen the backlash from these continued attacks after President Buhari guaranteed ending the insurgency. It is time that the government stopped trying to hide these attacks and just admitted that they are incapable of defeating this insurgent group without the help of outside entities, says International Christian Concern.

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