Herdsmen kill at least six Christians in southeast Nigeria

Location of Enugu state, Nigeria.
Location of Enugu state, Nigeria. | (Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)

Fulani herdsmen on Sunday night (April 28) killed at least six Christians, including children, in an attack in southeastern Nigeria, sources said.

The assailants raided predominantly Christian Ugwujoro Nimbo village, Uzo-Uwani County, in Enugu state at about 11 p.m., area residents said. Seven other Christians were injured, area resident Chijoke Okunna said.

“Seven Christians were wounded during the attack, and they suffered machete cuts,” Okunna told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message.

Michael Obinna, another resident, said Fulani herdsmen were behind the attack.

“The herdsmen invaded the village and opened fire on the villagers as they were sleeping in their houses,” Obinna said in a text message. “At least six Christians have been confirmed dead, including a little child.”

Resident David Ekwueze and Okunna identified five of the slain Christians as Okeh Simon, Ugwu Oruku, Okeh Chukwuebuka, Julius Ogbonna Odiegwu and Gabriel Ugwor Ezea.

“Children were also killed,” Ekwueze told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message. “And we know that Fulani herdsmen are behind the killings.”

Daniel Ndukwe, spokesman for the Enugu State Police Command, confirmed the attack to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News.

“We have reports from police officers in the area and more personnel have been deployed to the area to investigate and curtail the attack,” Ndukwe said.

On Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, 2023, suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists kidnapped four Christians in Ikem in Enugu state’s Isi-uzo County.

Nigeria remained the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

In the 2024 WWL of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as it was in the previous year.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.