JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Gunmen suspected to be local Fulani Muslims killed several Christians as they made their way home from church services in Jos, Nigeria on Sunday (May 26) following the murder of another area Christian last week, sources said.
Area Christian Peter Sarki informed Morning Star News by text message that local Muslims east of Jos, Plateau state, killed seven Christians on Sunday after unidentified Muslims killed Moses Victor, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), in the Rikkos area of Jos on May 20.
Police put the number of people killed in the areas on Sunday (May 26) at five and said 12 houses were burned. Sarki said more than 12 houses were burned, and that 12 additional Christians were wounded in the attacks. He said the violence took place in the Jos areas of Rikkos, Angwan Rukuba, Tina Junction, Cele Bridge, Dutse Uku, and Yan Trailer.
Sarki identified two of the Christians killed as they made their way home from ECWA church services on Sunday morning as Enoch Monday and Istifanus Ismailaj. Michael Anthony Pam of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Nasarawa Gwong, and four others yet to be identified were also killed, he said.
“Pam was the president of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria of his parish,” Sarki told Morning Star News.
Tyopev Matthias Terna, spokesman for the Plateau State Command, said in a press statement that the body of Enoch Monday was found on Sunday between Dutse Uku and Angwan Damisa in Jos North Local Government Area, and that units were dispatched to the area to restore calm.
As gunfire echoed and smoke from burning homes billowed in the distance, a Morning Star News correspondent and his family were temporarily stranded at their church building near the area on Sunday morning after receiving word from local people that Cele Bridge, Tina Junction, Rikkos, Dutse Uku, Yan Trailer and Angwan Rukuba were under attack. Other motorists who had attempted to pass through the areas were forced back due to the attacks.
The attacks may have led to more fatalities. The head of a northern Nigeria pastors’ fellowship known as the Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), the Rev. Luke Shehu, said in a press statement that “about 30” Christians were killed and 20 houses burned.
Pastor Shehu, who oversees a congregation in Jos, said that ethnic Fulani Muslim militia were responsible for the attacks, which he said were part of a planned “Fulanisation and Islamization” of Nigeria.
“Despite the intervention of security operatives, in less than 12 hours about 30 Christians were killed and over 20 houses where burnt or destroyed by Muslim militia, some in military uniforms from around Tina junction, Cele bridge, Dutse Uku and Nasarawa areas, all bordering Muslim communities in Jos North,” Pastor Shehu said. “These targeted attacks on innocent Christians are unacceptable, particularly with confirmed arrests of over 30 Christian women fruit and food vendors by soldiers around Tina junction in Jos after the attack today, 27th May 2019.”
A purported executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari revoking all firearms licenses beginning June 1 is largely seen as a ploy to keep Christians and minority tribes unarmed in the face of the heavily armed “Fulani militias and terrorists,” he said.
In the Riyom LGA of Plateau state about an hour south of Jos by car, gunmen believed to be Fulani militants reportedly killed six members of one family on Monday (May 27) at 7 p.m. Two children, their parents and grandparents of the Lo-Gwong Du family were killed, according to local press reports.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.