Fears of more attacks after Christmas massacre in Nigeria

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Christians in Nigeria’s Plateau State are living in fear of more attacks after devastating bloodshed over the Christmas period.

The death toll from the massacre of Christians in the days leading up to Christmas has reached nearly 200 and more bodies are being discovered, according to Release International.

Some 80 communities were targeted between December 23 and 28 as Christians around the world were celebrating the birth of Christ.

The attacks have been attributed to radicalised Fulani herdsmen.

In addition to killing villagers, the attackers set fire to churches, corn stores and clinics. Buildings belonging to Muslims were left untouched.

Release, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide, said that intelligence has been received of plans for further attacks in Plateau State and the area remains on high alert.

“These latest attacks were timed to bring terror to Christians at Christmas,” said Release CEO Paul Robinson.

Nigeria was one of the countries highlighted in Release’s Persecution Trends report published last week. The report predicts that violence against Christians will rise in the country in 2024.

Catholic ministry, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said that the Christmas attacks were “well-coordinated and deliberate, specifically targeting Christian communities”.

The areas of Pushit and Bokkos received written warnings of the attack that said Christians “will not celebrate Christmas”.

Release said that similar warnings before a massacre in 2018 were not acted upon by security services but this time, the military intervened after being warned of an attack in Bokkos, preventing loss of life on this occasion.

Release’s Nigerian partners say that “intelligence shows that the assailants are bent on continuing their havoc”.

They are responding to the latest violence by warning local communities of threats via text message, and providing trauma counselling for victims.

“Many observers now regard the radicalised Fulani militia as a greater menace than the terror groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province,” said Mr Robinson.

“Both organisations have sworn to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation. And the Fulani militia, in ethnically cleansing Christians from the north and Middle Belt are serving the same agenda.”

He continued, “Release International calls for prayer for these Christian communities and urges the government of Nigeria and its security forces to take urgent measures to safeguard these communities from attacks.

“The ineffectiveness of Nigeria’s security forces in protecting the country’s Christian minority is being noted around the world.”


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