09/11/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 7, 2017, the Christian village of Ancha in Plateau State in north-central Nigeria was invaded by Fulani militants at midnight. Twenty Christians were killed in this gruesome, carefully coordinated attack. Nineteen of the murdered victims were members of Salama Baptist Church; one was a member of the Methodist Church. One entire family was killed in the attack. They were the last surviving members of their direct line. Five other Christians suffered various injuries and are now in the hospital for treatment.
“My heart is terribly heavy. I haven’t been able to sleep. I was called [on the phone] at about 12:00 midnight when the Fulani militia came into the village,” mourned Rev. Nanchwat Laven, the pastor of Salama Baptist Church. When ICC asked why the Fulani attacked, Rev. Nanchwat didn’t know. “We didn’t have a quarrel. Some of the herdsmen [would] come into [the] village and relax among the villagers, sometimes way into late evening, when the local vigilante would advise them to go home. Of course we have had issues from time to time with the herdsmen letting their cattle graze into our farms and destroy our crops. It would appear the Fulanis [launched this] attack because they had…some provocative attitude [about] their cattle graz[ing] on our farms.”
These type of attacks are not new. Between October 2016 and September 2017, Fulani militants have attacked more than 20 Christian villages, killed more than 200 Christians, destroyed hundreds of homes, many churches, and properties. The damages associated with the destruction have cost more than $100,000.
Speaking on a local television news channel after the attack, the Plateau State Police Commissioner confirmed that the attack was perpetrated by Fulani militants, but that no arrests had been made yet. He reported that the Fulani militants were said to be on a reprisal mission following the killing of a Fulani boy. However, the Fulani boy in question was killed in the village of Hukkie, approximately 15 kilometers away from Ancha. Also, the Fulani boy was caught up in a clash between the local farmers of Hukkie and some herdsmen who let their cattle graze into their farms and destroyed crops. When the aggrieved farmers confronted the herdsmen, the herdsmen started up a fight. There is no connection between the village the Fulani boy was killed in and Ancha village, except that the inhabitants are of the same tribe and faith.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Nathan Johnson, said, “The Nigerian government needs to hold the Fulani militants accountable for their actions. Allowing them to commit these atrocities with impunity is putting many Nigerian lives at risk and shows that they do not truly value all of their citizens. We hope that the government can take effective action to demilitarize and stabilize the Fulani militants and stop the senseless killing of so many Christian farmers.”