Holy Week attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria leave nearly 100 dead

 

Burned vehicles after Good Friday raid on April 7, 2023, in Ngban, Benue state, Nigeria. / Courtesy of Justice, Development, and Peace Commission

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 10, 2023 / 13:04 pm (CNA).

At least 94 people reportedly have died in a series of deadly attacks on Christian communities throughout Holy Week in Benue state in north-central Nigeria, an ominous sign of escalating violence blamed on Muslim militias in the country’s Middle Belt region.

On April 2, armed men reportedly stormed a Palm Sunday service at a Pentecostal church in Akenawe-Tswarev in Logo county, Benue state, killing a young boy and kidnapping the pastor and other worshipers.

Three days later, on April 5, gunmen killed at least 50 people in the village of Umogidi, located in Utokpo county, a Catholic stronghold in western Benue, the Associated Press reported.

More recently, on the night of Good Friday, dozens were killed when Muslim gunmen raided an elementary school building in the village of Ngban that serves as a shelter for about 100 displaced Christian farmers and their families.

The April 7 attack left 43 people dead and more than 40 injured, according to Father Remigius Ihyula, who heads the Benue branch of the Justice, Development, and Peace Commission (JDPC), a Nigerian Catholic relief organization.

Hours before the attack, Benue’s outgoing governor, Samuel Ortom, speaking in Otukpo, warned residents to remain vigilant and criticized what he sees as a slow response on the part of police and army units to respond to his requests for help.

Ortom had demanded for four years that federal laws be changed to allow citizens to buy firearms for self-defense, without success.

Residents of Ngbam, Benue state, Nigeria, on April 8, 2023, the day after gunmen killed at least 43 people and injured another 40. Courtesy of Justice, Development, and Peace Commission
Residents of Ngbam, Benue state, Nigeria, on April 8, 2023, the day after gunmen killed at least 43 people and injured another 40. Courtesy of Justice, Development, and Peace Commission

A JDPC relief worker who asked to remain anonymous told CNA she arrived the next morning to care for survivors and spoke to police officers manning the checkpoint near the school.

“Some of the survivors told me that police had fought the attackers and possibly killed some of them, but the marauding band retrieved their dead on their way out of the school compound, and the police told me the same,” she said.

“I doubt that the survivors of the attack on the primary school could go to church on Easter Sunday, as they need medicine and trauma counseling,” Father Ihyula told CNA.

While visiting with survivors of the April 7 attack in Ngban, Ortom said at least 134 people were killed in attacks in Benue over five days. Included in that tally is an April 3 raid in Apa that left 47 dead, according to a report by ThisDaylive.com, a Nigerian news outlet. It was not immediately clear on Monday whether Christians were the targets in that attack.

Benue State has an estimated 2 million displaced persons who cannot live on their traditional farm lands for fear of being killed. Some farmers venture back to cultivate their fields during the day and retreat to displaced person camps at night.


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2 Comments

  1. If a man is into bloodshed and tries to satiate Allah’s perpetual assassin proclivities, Islam is a preferred choice.
    Perhaps it is fitting to delve into the Koran to examine the fallacious claims of Islam as being peaceful! The arguments of Islam are distortions of the truth, indeed the Koran urges the Muslim to lie in the defence and propagation of Islam.

    While the Koran urges Muslims to be truthful to one another, there are circumstances which nullify speaking the truth to a fellow Muslim! A Muslim scholar is cordially invited to a no nonsense discussion of the claims of the Religion of Peace. A welcome invitation is also extended to a Muslim who would like to learn of Jesus Christ. Regardless of ones position, you will be accorded respect and truth will be the objective.

    The God of the Bible wants us to live in peace and respect our neighbours.

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

    Titus 2:7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,

    Blessings that only the Lord Jesus provides to His followers.

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