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HomeFulani Jihadists kill Pastor, 25 others, in Attack near Jos, Nigeria

Fulani Jihadists kill Pastor, 25 others, in Attack near Jos, Nigeria

Brigade-level Units Burn Groups of Villages At Once

JOS—Jihadists launched a sophisticated assault on five communities near Jos on Sunday [June 11] , killing 26 Christians, according to a local lawmaker speaking to Truth Nigeria.   

A pastor and his son were among the victims of the late-afternoon attack that has renewed fears of Islamic takeover of Africa’s most populous country.

Responding to the latest iteration of terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of unarmed residents of his state, Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang reportedly said he was saddened by the killings and said the security situation had become “alarming,” Muftwang told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“The security architecture has become like an old, abandoned engine that needs to be re-serviced and retooled,” Muftwang said according to media reports.

The latest attack is part of an ongoing series of assaults on Christian communities in Central Nigeria, including Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau States. In Plateau State alone,  more than  200 residents, most of them members of the Berom tribe, were massacred on May 16 and three days following. Eight others were reportedly killed in a town called Pushit on 10 June.

The leader of the Berom  Community of North America expressed anguish in reaction to news of the attack in a conversation with Truth Nigeria. “They attacked my home village of Rim in Riyom Country,” said Ms. Felicia Sodipe, a civil servant in El Paso, Texas. “Our Berom community is pulling together funds to send to wounded members of the Berom recovering in hospitals,” she said. After that we are going to meet with our Texas Congressional representatives to ask them to help in raising awareness about these atrocities,” Sodipe said to Truth Nigeria.

Felicia Sodipe, president of the Berom Community of North America . Courtesy of Felicia Sodipe.
Felicia Sodipe, president of the Berom Community of North America . Courtesy of Felicia Sodipe.

According to town leaders, a massive group of terrorists, numbering as many as 2,000, which is the baseline size of a U.S. Army brigade, armed with assault rifles, simultaneously swarmed a cluster of villages at the intersection of three counties shortly after church service on Sunday. The Fulani-speaking terrorists shot at and set fire to houses as residents scrambled into surrounding forest to escape, according to survivors who spoke to Truth Nigeria.

The Fulani comprise a large ethnic group in West Africa which makes up more than 8 percent of Nigeria’s population according to several sources.

Militant  members of the majority-Muslim tribe reportedly have killed three times more Nigeria civilians than the insurgencies known as Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) or Boko Haram (Western Learning Forbidden) in recent years.

Youths protest Fulani massacres in Plateau State on 22 May, 2023. Photo by Masara Kim

Rev. Nicodemus Kim, pastor of a branch of Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and his son were among the first victims of the attack in the town of Gana-Ropp, in eastern Barkin Ladi county near the border with Mangu county, where the 200 Christian were massacred from May 16.

“The Reverend was in his house on the outskirts of the village with his family when they sneaked in and opened fire around 2 o’clock,” said Rwang Tengwong, a tribal leader in the area. “Others who heard the gunshots fled but they injured several of them before proceeding to the next village,” said Tengwong, the spokesman for the Berom Youth Molders Association in a telephone interview.

According to him, the pastor was targeted for his role in encouraging Christians to return to the village after most residents had abandoned it. In 2018 Fulani-driven massacres killed more than 250 Christians in the three-county area,  including 43 people reportedly killed in a church in Gana-Ropp where they had gathered to seek shelter.

In four other villages in Riyom county – Rim, Jol, Kwi and Tashek which border Barkin Ladi to the west, groups of  20 to 30 neighborhood watchmen battled for several hours to slow the attacks with their hunting rifles and single-shot guns. Their actions enabled scores of women and children to escape, Tengwong said. Several of them were killed in the process by the terrorists’ superior firepower, said Tengwong.

“The sophistication of their weapons incomparably overpowered the vigilantes [local name for civilian volunteer guards] in Kwi, thereby resulting in the burning of Hei-gwe village. Over 100 crop farms were also destroyed,” he said.

 A young civilian guard in Bassa County west of Jos uses his slingshot to defend his village against terrorists invaders carrying assault rifles.  Photo by Masara Kim.

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21 corpses were recovered at the end of the 6-hour attack across the five villages while more than 20 others who were injured were taken to hospital, he noted, adding more than 2000 residents were displaced.

Above: Rep. Simon Mwadkwon, a member of Nigeria’s lower house, was elected to the Nigerian Senate on Feb. 25, 2023.  Photo courtesy of Simon Mwadkwon. 

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Mr. Simon Mwadkwon, a member of the Nigerian Parliament who represents the area said the death toll could be more than 25.

“We have about four [killed] in Rim, four in Jol, 16 in Kwi and two in Gana-Ropp,” said Mwadkwon, who represented Riyom and Barkin Ladi at the Nigerian House of Representatives from 2019. Mwadkwon was elected to the Nigerian Senate to represent Plateau north on February 25, 2023. At least 16 of the dead were civilian guards attempting to repel the attackers with single shot rifles, according to guardsmen interviewed by Truth Nigeria.

“My heart bleeds,” said Mwadkwon in a telephone interview. “These attacks are nothing but a continued attempt to intimidate residents and grab their lands as part of the [Islamic] agenda we have always talked about,” he said, accusing the military of complicity.

“These attacks started hours after threat alerts were circulated on social media and to the military. But it looks like each time you give advance warning, instead of prevention, the military assists in carrying out the attacks,” he said, adding that he urges international intervention by the United Nations.

Police arrived in Kwi village on Monday morning hours after the attack. Photo by Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri

Residents speaking on background for fear of retribution said officials of a military task force in the state declined to respond to distress calls during the attacks . One villager told Truth Nigeria, “A military officer said to us they didn’t need to act since the locals had already labeled them as complicit with the terrorists.”

Spokesman for the task force, Captain James Weller did not respond to queries sent by text message.

The killings of unarmed Berom people followed the killing of two boys herding cattle in Kwi village Sunday afternoon, according to Mohammed Nuru Abdullahi, chairman of the Miyetti Allah Breeders Association. “There was an ambush of two boys on the road in Kwi between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday,” Abdullahi told Truth Nigeria in a phone call. “Such attacks happen almost on a daily basis,” Abdullahi said.  That explanation invoking the familiar theme of a farmer herder clash was amplified by Nigerian police spokesman, Alfred Alabo. “On Sunday  (June 11) afternoon two livestock herders were slain on Sunday before 21 farmers were slaughtered in subsequent raids in other areas,” according to Plateau State police spokesperson Alfred Alabo, who was cited by AFP.com and republished by Barrons and World Echo News.

“The second assault was undertaken later in the night after the two herders had been murdered. The scene of the event has been examined by the police commissioner. The reason for the attack is under investigation,” said Alabo to Truth Nigeria, The claim by Abdullahi has not been corroborated by photos or eye witness accounts, although Abdullahi promised to provide them. “Such an explanation  replicates boiler-plate responses to hundreds of massacres in Nigeria during the last 20 years. The fact is there are never real investigations and no one will be arrested for this atrocity,” according to Douglas Burton, according to local residents who claimed anonymity for fear of retribution. 

“That is complete and utter nonsense,” responded Judd Saul, founder of Equipping the Persecuted, a humanitarian nonprofit based in Iowa. “I would also say that the Nigerian government practices selective outrage in favor of one religion while ignoring the major atrocities committed against another,” Judd told Truth Nigeria.

This story edited and revised by Douglas Burton.

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