Terrorists kill eight Christians in Taraba state, Nigeria

By Christian Daily International / Morning Star News |
Taraba state Assembly Rep. Rikupki Urenyang Joshua.
Taraba state Assembly Rep. Rikupki Urenyang Joshua. | (Facebook rikupkiofficial)

Unidentified terrorists on Thursday (Dec. 28) killed eight Christians in Taraba state, Nigeria, after 13 others were slain the previous week, sources said.

The assailants attacked four predominantly Christian villages in Ussa County at about at about 4 p.m., residents said.

“While we are still celebrating Christmas, an event which reminds us of the birth of our messiah, Jesus Christ, Muslim terrorists attacked the villages of Kpambo, Fikyu, Kpambo-Yashe and Kpambo-Kuri,” Lami John told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News in a text message. “Eight Christians were killed during these attacks, and most of the houses belonging to Christians were destroyed by the terrorists.”

John, a victim of the attacks, fled her village as the assailants were shooting anyone in sight and setting homes on fire, she said.

Another area resident, Bulus Andeyake, said the eight Christians slain were farmers.

“Most Christian farmers are unable to go to their farms to harvest their crops because these terrorists lurk in bushes killing Christians they spot working on farms,” Andeyake said in a text message. “It’s risky for us to go to our farms.

In Ussa Local Government Area, many Christians have been killed by Muslim terrorists.”

The previous week, 13 Christian farmers were killed in Jenuwagida village in Ussa County, he said.

Rikupki Urenyang Joshua, a representative in the Taraba State House of Assembly, said in a press statement on Friday (Dec. 29) that continuous attacks have resulted in the death of more than 500 Christians in Ussa County in the past few years.

“The murderers come in from Cameroon via the border communities and have continued to launch attacks on our vulnerable communities,” he said.

The Nigerian government and security agencies have failed to take proactive measures to prevent the attacks by terrorists, he said. “Nigeria’s federal government is being called upon to deploy troops to the affected communities in order to curtail the activities of the terrorists.”

David Jimkuta, a senator from the area in Nigeria’s parliament, the National Assembly, on Friday (Dec. 29) also said hundreds of people have been killed and more than 50 villages destroyed in Ussa and Takum counties over a three-month period.

“It’s rather sad that a total of 50 villages in Ussa and Takum Local Government Areas are in ruins because of attacks carried out by terrorists against Christians,” Jimkuta said. “Unfortunately, our security agencies seem to feign ignorance as to where these terrorists are to be found. Truth is, security agencies know where these terrorists are; let them flush out these terrorists from their enclave.”

A state of emergency should be declared in the Takum and Ussa areas, he said.

“Such a declaration would pave the way for essential measures to be taken, enabling Christians who have survived the carnage to return to their farmlands and begin rebuilding their lives,” Jimkuta said.

Two Christians were reported to have been kidnapped by terrorists on Dec. 24. Area resident Lynn Adda identified them as Ishaya Dimas Dila, a former council official, and the other only as Begwa.

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.

In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.

“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”

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 the 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.