11 January 2017
Nigerian government failing to protect Christians, says global watchdog, after ten people killed in Adamawa State
A Catholic bishop in Kaduna State says attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen have increased dramatically
A Christian village in northern Nigeria was attacked by Islamist militants at the weekend leaving ten dead.
Fulani herdsmen killed six police officers and four civilians on 7 January after invading a village in Kwayine, Adamawa State. The local police said an earlier attempt to target Christians on New Year’s Eve had been thwarted.
The Fulani are nomadic Muslim herdsmen who frequently attack Christian communities. Although Boko Haram is the better known fundamentalist group operating in northern Nigeria, most of the recorded killings have been carried out by the Fulani, whom the Nigerian government does not acknowledge as a terrorist group.
Speaking last month to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese in Kaduna State, Joseph Bagobiri, said: “In the last three months, over half the territory in the southern part of Kaduna State has witnessed an intensification of attacks by the Fulani Herdsmen Terrorists”.
It is a group almost unknown in the West, the bishop told ACN, but since September they have burned down 53 villages, killed over 800 people and destroyed 16 churches.
“The persecution in Nigeria is not given anything like the same level of international attention as what is happening in the Middle East,” he added.
Between 2006 and 2014 an estimated 11,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria. Boko Haram led an insurgency in 2009 with the goal of turning Nigeria into an Islamic State. So far 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states - most of which are in the north of the country - have implemented Sharia Law.
Daniel Harris, Regional Manager for International Christian Concern, said the Nigerian Government was failing to properly protect Christians. “The government’s refusal to recognise the Fulani militants as what they are, Islamic terrorists, threatens religious freedom and the lives of Christians in this region.”
Nigeria has consistently ranked in the top 20 worst places to be a Christian, according to global watchdog Open Doors. In figures released this week the country came twelfth in the world for persecution against Christians. North Korea ranked first, followed by Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan.
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