The death toll of last weekend’s massacre of Nigerian Christians by militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen has risen to at least 200, according to a report released Friday by Open Doors, an organization that monitors Christian persecution.
As Breitbart News reported earlier this week, heavily armed gunmen recognized as Fulani herdsmen opened fire on Christians in a number of villages in Plateau State of central Nigeria last weekend, killing scores and injuring hundreds more, as well as burning some 50 homes to the ground. Most of the victims were returning home from the funeral of the father of a local Christian minister.
Despite the evidently religious nature of the slaughter, mainstream media chose to downplay the militant Islamism behind the attacks, preferring to attribute the violence to “ethnic tensions,” a “battle for land and resources,” or even “climate change.”
Meanwhile, two local Catholic bishops have called out the violence for what it was: a “clear agenda for Islamizing the Nigerian Middle Belt” by using Fulani shepherds.
One of the bishops, Matthew Ishaya Audu of Lafia, said the attacks are not random or economically motivated, but purposefully target Christians.
“They want to strike Christians,” Bishop Audu said, “and the government does nothing to stop them, because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group.”
Other observers concur that the attacks form part of a larger plan to eliminate Christians from the area.
“The killings are becoming no longer herder and farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, while denouncing an attack on a Bible school that trained Christian missionaries in Gana-Ropp village.
Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Jos, said that the violence is part of a pattern, an emerging agenda, which represents “another Boko Haram in disguise.”
The intensity of the attacks in central Nigeria is indicative, Para-Mallam said, “because Plateau state is the epicenter of Christianity.”
The recent “killing spree” lasted four days, Thursday through Sunday evening and into Monday, Open Doors revealed in its report Friday.
During this time, a dozen villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state were reportedly wiped out and on Sunday, 75 of the victims were buried in a mass grave.