Over 30 Nigerian Christians were killed in a brutal early morning attack by radical Islamic Fulani herdsmen, who have been systematically targeting believers living on lands the extremists claim to be their territory.
The Guardian reports that the deadly assault occurred at around 4 a.m. near the town of Maro, in Kajuru County of Kaduna state, where the attackers set fire to several buildings, including homes and churches. The extremists shot civilians with rifles as they fled the burning establishments.
A member of local church Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) told Morning Star News that members “ran out of the church building as the shooting was going on.” She added, “Many have been killed, and I have not seen my family members since morning. I have escaped out of the area.”
Some villagers and local policemen tried to resist the radical Muslim assault but were forced to retreat as the attackers overwhelmed them by sheer numbers and firepower.
Kaduna’s local state government condemned the attack in a statement from Samuel Aruwan, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor.
“Today, the Kaduna State government was briefed by security agencies of renewed attacks in Kajuru Local Government Area, and in parts of neighboring Kachia Local Government Area,” he said. “The state government has been assured that the security agencies are working assiduously to contain the situation. The government is saddened by these attacks, condemns the perpetrators and urges all residents of the area to support the security agencies in their efforts to protect communities.”
The violence was so severe that a nearby boarding school administered by the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) evacuated to protect the children.
“We evacuated about hundred EMS kids from Kufana for safety,” explained school director Bakari Ibrahim to Morning Star News. “Many of our missionaries working among the Kadara tribe and some in Katari areas have been displaced. Please keep praying for our nation.”
Kaduna governor Aminu Tambuwal expressed sadness for the victims and called for more security in the Kajuru and Kachia counties to protect “people’s lives and property.”
The state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria Kaduna chapter Reverend Joseph Hayap said of the attack: “We have appealed to the youths in the area that there must never be any reprisal. We want to give the security operatives in the state the benefit of the doubt to go after the killers. We don’t want any reprisal attack because the circle of violence and killings will continue.”
Nigeria has been facing growing unrest as radical Islamic terrorist groups, including the Fulani herdsmen, have been ramping up attacks on Christians, who make up about 51% of the population.
In September 2018, Islamic extremists raided Christian homes and murdered 11 civilians in a brutal assault in the city of Jos, the capital city of the Plateau State of the African nation.
"When the Fulani herdsmen came, they shot into the house randomly, breaking and forcing their way into rooms, shooting defenseless women and children and anyone in sight," a survivor said at the time.
Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors ranks Nigeria high on the "World Watch List," sitting at number 12 just below Syria.