(International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least 30 Christians, including women, children and the elderly, were brutally murdered in an attack on a Christian village in central Nigeria. Islamic gunmen, believed to be from the Fulani ethnic group, opened fire on residents of Shonong village located in Nigeria's Plateau State, killing those unfortunate enough to be in the village at the time of the attack.
The attack on Shonong village began early in the day on Monday, January 6th. According to survivors, "hundreds of attackers" poured into the Christian village with automatic weapons, killing Christians they discovered still in the village proper. On top of the killings, 20 Christian homes were set ablaze and other private properties owned by Christians were either destroyed or stolen by the attackers. According BosNewsLife, eye witnesses have reported that "some 30 human remains were recovered so far." According to others, many villages remain missing.
Although this attack on Shonong village was devastating, many believe the death toll could have been much higher if not for the swift intervention of the police and Nigerian military. Authorities in Nigeria have yet to confirm an official death toll.
Christian leaders in Nigeria suspect the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is inciting the Fulani Muslims to attack Christians living in Nigeria's middle belt region. "From all indications, the terrorism being witnessed in the country is purely in pursuit of Jihad," Rev. Yiman Orkwar, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Makurdi in Benue State, told Morning Star News. "In Benue state, Fulani terrorists in collaboration with Boko Haram and other foreign mercenaries are causing wanton destruction of lives and property."
Boko Haram, whose name means 'Western education is a sin,' has a stated goal of establishing a separate Islamic state in Nigeria's north where it can implement its fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law. In 2012, Boko Haram demanded all Christians living in northern Nigeria flee to south so that only a purely Islamic society can be established. Since making this demand, Boko Haram has used church bombings, drive-by shootings and deadly raids on Christian villages as a part of its strategy to 'purify' northern Nigeria. Now it seems that Christians living in Nigeria's central regions are in equal peril.
ICC's Regional Manager, William Stark, said, "Islamic extremists continue to slaughter and terrorize Christians living in Nigeria's northern and central states. The only crime many of these Christians have committed is belonging to a religious faith Boko Haram and its affiliates believe don't belong in northern and central Nigeria. ICC applauds the action taken by the U.S. to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization, but more has to be done to end the slaughter. The Nigerian government must take steps to ensure the safety of Christians living in Nigeria. If decisive action is not taken, the unbelievable violence being perpetrated against Christians in Nigeria will only continue to accelerate and will likely reach genocidal levels in the near future."
c. 2014 International Christian Concern. Used with permission.
Publication Date: January 14, 2013.