Armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba state on October 19 and killed 31 people as they worshipped, a church leader said.
Two pastors, one pastor’s son, and 28 other Christians were slain in the attacks in the villages of Gindin Waya and Sondi, said the Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria. Ahema said the onslaught was the seventh attack on Christian communities in Wukari Local Government Area since February.
“The attack on Christians in Taraba state is a planned genocide against Christians by Islamic insurgents who have invaded the southern part of the state, inhabited mostly by Christians, since February,” he said.
Ahema said the Muslim extremists, who wore military uniforms, were members of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram who came from outside the state. Recently insurgents from Boko Haram, based in Borno state, have reportedly joined ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba and other northeastern states.
Recent attacks, according to Nigerian press reports, have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen who have become members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
While ethnic Fulanis have had longstanding property disputes with Christian farmers, church leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.
“This is the third time that the Muslims have attacked Christians on a Sunday,” Ahema said. “The attack led to the death of four persons in Gindin Waya, and 27 persons in Sondi. Among the dead is the pastor of the Sondi church, Nuhu Useni, and his only male child.”Pastor Useni and the three other Christians slain in Sondi were buried on October 20, he said.
Ahema said the killings have caused excruciating pain for the Reformed Church in Nigeria, and he appealed for the Nigerian government to take steps to stop the blood bath.
“Muslims seem determined to wipe out Christians in this country,” he said. “What is happening? How come Christians have been attacked seven times now, and it seems as if the country has no good security intelligence gathering network, or that security reports are not being used?”
Islamic extremist insurgents with Boko Haram and others killed 1,631 Christians in Nigeria for their faith in the first six months of 2014 – a figure that is 91 percent of the total Christians killed in the country in all of last year, according to advocacy group Jubilee Campaign. Last year 1,783 Nigerian Christians were killed for their faith, according to Jubilee Campaign.