160 Christians Killed in Nigeria Over Christmas

160 Christians Killed in Nigeria Over Christmas

Saturday through Christmas Day (Dec. 23-25), terrorists killed at least 160 people and wounded at least 300 others in coordinated attacks across more than 20 predominantly Christian villages in Plateau State, Nigeria. Hundreds of houses were destroyed and most of the murder victims were women, children and elderly. Many of the victims were preparing for Christmas programs organized by their churches and pastors.

Bokkos County resident Dawzino Mallau said the terrorists killed multiple pastors along with their families in the area. According to Monday Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos, 113 people were killed there and more than 300 wounded were rushed to hospitals in Bokkos, Jos and Barkin Ladi. Resident Solomon Musa said that 26 Christians in the Bokkos Council area were buried on Christmas Day.

“These terrorists who attacked these Christian communities were in the hundreds, and they carried out the attacks as the hapless Christians were preparing for Christmas programs lined up by their pastors,” Mallau said.

In the Bokkos area, 221 houses were set on fire, along with 27 motorcycles and eight other vehicles. Bokkos resident Alfred Mashat said that hundreds of houses were destroyed and about 160 Christians were killed by the terrorists. “We believe they are carrying out these attacks alongside armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen,” he said in a text to Morning Star News.

Local officials confirmed the attacks on Monday, verifying that at least 160 were massacred.

Nigeria has become increasingly dangerous for Christians in recent years, leading the world in Christians martyred and abused in 2022. The country was No. 6 on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List for Christian persecution, up from No. 7 the previous year.

The predominantly Muslim assailants, described locally as “bandits,” are estimated to number in the tens of thousands and include Fulani herdsmen. They ride motorcycles and are armed with sophisticated weapons obtained from criminal elements outside of the country, according to Morning Star News. Some are said to be mercenaries from Chad or Niger.

A 2020 report from the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief says that these herdsmen adopt similar strategies to the terrorist group Boko Haram and the extremist group the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter of Boko Haram. They demonstrate “a clear intent to target Christians and symbols of Christian identity such as churches.” Survivors of attacks have reported the herdsmen shouting things like, “Allahu Akbar” (an Arabic expression meaning “Allah is the greatest”), “destroy the infidels” and “wipe out the infidels.”

“This is unacceptable,” said Plateau Gov. Caleb Mutfwang on Christmas Day. “Enough is enough. These stupid, senseless and unprovoked acts must stop.” He vowed to strengthen security agencies to address insecurity in the state.


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