11/28/2011 Nigeria (Compass Direct News) - Fulani Muslim herdsmen along with Muslim soldiers have killed at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians in Plateau state in the past week, Christians in this northern-central Nigerian town said.
Smaller attacks beginning on Nov. 20, reportedly over allegations by Fulani Muslims of cattle theft, preceded an attack on a Barkin Ladi church on Nov. 23 that killed four Christians, and an assault the next day left 35 Christians dead in Barkin Ladi and nearby Kwok village, according to area Christian leaders.
Church attendance was decimated yesterday as thousands of Christians have left the area.
“Christians are fleeing the town because we have no guns to fight back,” said one woman in a group of six Christians trying to leave Barkin Ladi. “Muslims have guns, and they have their soldiers fighting for them, so we have no choice but to leave town.”
Almost all churches in the town cancelled or held reduced worship services on the first Sunday (Nov. 27) after the crisis was contained, as nearly all area Christians have fled to Jos or have left Plateau state, long hit by ethnic property conflicts fueled by anti-Christian sentiment. In March 2010 ethnic Berom Christians, who live as farmers, suffered attacks from Fulani nomads who graze their cattle on the Beroms’ land, resulting in hundreds of deaths in three villages near Jos.
In the attack on Thursday (Nov. 24), the Fulani Muslims were shouting “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” said farmer Choji Pamjamo, 51.
“On Thursday at about 9 a.m., the Muslims’ call to prayer was made at the Izala [Islamic sect] mosque,” Pamjamo said. “And shortly after that, we saw hundreds of armed Muslims invading the town from all directions, attacking and killing Christians. They were shouting ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’ as they were burning properties belonging to Christians.”
Pamjamo confirmed Christian leaders’ account of an attack on a Church of Christ of Nigeria (COCIN) congregation in the Sabon Layi (Rantya) area of Barkin Ladi the previous night (Nov. 23), saying that among the four Christians killed was Bible teacher Yakubu Pam.
Sources told Compass that along with the 26 Christians killed in Kwok village, nine others were killed in the attack on Barkin Ladi on Thursday (Nov. 24). Compass found that the area attacks on Christians began Nov. 20, the day of the alleged cattle theft, with the killing of three Christians outside Barkin Ladi, and then two Christians in the town were killed on Nov. 21.
The next day, a Christian was beheaded behind a popular hotel in Barkin Ladi known as the White House, sources said. The attack on the COCIN church ensued the following evening.
Several people fleeing the town as Compass arrived asked, “When will the killings of Christians in Nigeria stop?”