Christians Attacked and Killed by Islamic Fanatics in Nigeria

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Christians Attacked and Killed by Islamic Fanatics in Nigeria

Christians in the Plateau State of central Nigeria have been killed and forced from their land by extremist Islamic militants.

Attacks have been mounted against Christians in the area surrounding Jos, leaving several dead and many more wounded and displaced.

Christians in a village outside Jos were roused from sleep by church bells at 5am on a morning at the end of June. When they began making their way to church thinking it was the bell for morning prayers, they were ambushed by Islamic militants from the Hausa and Fulani tribes. Four were killed and 20 injured.

During the last three weeks of June, several churches were burned, shops and homes looted and Christian property destroyed in Yelwa Shendam. Christians were chased out of the town and were forced to take refuge in Jos.

In a separate incident in Wase, Christians were attacked and killed and no church building was left standing. Farmland and crops were destroyed and all the Christians there were forced to flee to Langtan.

Sporadic attacks have also been reported in Berakin Ladi, Vom and Miango, leaving several dead in each attack.

At least a thousand Christians are refugees scattered between Mban, Pil and Langtan, and Christian leaders in the area have organised refugee camps and have recorded evidence of the atrocities.

Bishop Ben Kwashi of Jos said: "We are facing a new Muslim onslaught. Terror has been released on the majority Christian population of the Plateau. As in Sudan, the church in these areas continues to be lively and fervent in faith in spite of their hardships. Our faith in our suffering is producing much fruit. Even now the congregations that are barely a month old are still zealous for Christ. We are losing material possessions and hanging on to Jesus alone."

CSW calls on the Nigerian Government to intervene with sufficient security forces to end these attacks on innocent people.

CSW also calls on local Muslim leaders to be a voice of moderation when confronted by violent provocateurs from outside the region.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have seen loved ones murdered by these rampaging mobs.

"The destruction and upheaval of whole communities is a devastating development in this part of Nigeria and moderate voices on all sides must be heeded. Regardless of whether this violence is politically or religiously motivated, we call on all concerned to work for constructive dialogue leading to a lasting peace."