On Tuesday morning, an attack was carried out on a Catholic church in central Nigeria that left two priests and 17 churchgoers dead. Sadly, this is just the latest attack on Christians in the country.
Nigerian police believe that Fulani herdsmen were behind the attack that took place at Saint Ignatius, in Mbalom, Nigeria. The believe roughly 30 individualswere responsible for ransacking the church, along with a burial ceremony. The group also burnt down dozens of homes in Mbalom, leaving a state of devastation in their wake.
“The herdsmen burnt nearly 50 houses during the attack and sacked the entire community,” Terver Akase, a police spokesman said. “We expect arrests to be made because they are becoming more brazen.”
Terhemen Angor, a resident of Mbalom, said the barbaric attack took place at St. Ignatius Catholic church, a spot where believers routinely meet.
“People started scampering and wailing,” said Angor, saying they were “gunned down in cold blood while many sustained injuries including bullet wounds.”
This is not the first attack, as the Fulani herdsmen are suspected in many recent killings. Un February, 38 members of a United Methodist Church were killed in Taraba. The herdsmen were suspected in the village-wide siege. In March alone, 225 believers were killed by herdsmen.
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has spoken out against the attack, calling it “evil and satanic.”
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable,” Buhari said. “Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshipers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”
The village of Mbalom is located in the“Middle Belt” of Nigeria, smack dab in the middle of the Muslim filled north and Christian south. Villages like Mbalom are mainly inhabited by farmers that are Christian. The Fulani herdsmen who delivered the attack, are mainly Muslim.
For years, different groups have waged attacks against Christians throughout Nigeria. Boko Haram militants have been notorious for attacking Christians and many other groups throughout the country, making them among the deadliest terror groups in the entire world.
The Guardian, however, recently reported that the Fulani have become “more deadly than the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast and is becoming a key issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential polls.”
Nigerians from all over the country are motioning for President Buhari to take action against the violent groups that are leaving the region devastated. Nigerians fear Christians will be to be forced to flee because of the “religious cleansing” taking place in the name of “the Islamic war of expansion.”
Many leaders in Nigeria have implored President Buhari to address the problem head-on. The head of the Methodist Church in Nigeria even challenged President Buhari to increase educational efforts, as his predecessor did.
“It still beats my imagination how the All Progressives Congress, APC, government of President Muhammadu Buhari is not consolidating on the legacies of Goodluck Jonathan who started the process of educating the herdsmen, by establishing schools for them,” said Livinus Biereonwu Onugha. “At this digital age, the APC government is encouraging herdsmen to continue to wander from place to place in rearing flocks.”