On Friday, March 14, gunmen raided three villages in Kaduna state in central Nigeria, killing at least 114 people. Around 35 additional people were gunned down in attacks on several villages Sunday afternoon in Taraba state; a Catholic church was also targeted.
The Fulani, a predominantly Muslim west African ethnic group of herdsmen, who have a history of land disputes with Nigeria’s indigenous Christians and others, are suspected in both attacks. These farming communities, which have been targeted by Fulani for several years, are largely populated by Christians. Nigeria's Catholic bishops say the religious dimension of the running conflict is secondary to the more fundamental herdsmen-farmer disputes over land, according to the Vatican-run Fides News Agency. Nevertheless, the underlying differences between the two religious groups are mixed into the land disputes.
In a separate incident on Sunday, March 16, militants suspected to be part of the Islamist group Boko Haram killed two people in Pela Birni village in Borno state. Two churches and a number of houses were burned, according to news reports.
According to Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper, the village of Pela Birni, populated by a concentration of Christians, was attacked late Sunday night. "The gunmen invaded our village at about 10 o’clock in the evening on Sunday, they started shouting 'God is Great'," the Vanguard quoted a resident of the village as saying. "In some houses, they did not shoot at the residents, but ordered them to vacate their houses and set them ablaze, saying 'We are here for God work.'" Two churches and an unknown number of houses were burned, according to news reports. The Vanguard reported that the incident was confirmed by Andrew Usman Malgwi, chairman of the Hawul Local Government Area, which encompasses Pela Birni village.
Boko Haram, blamed for this recent attack on Pela Birni village, is an armed insurgency that aims to set up Islamic law across Nigeria's northern states. This group is allegedly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, both Christian and Muslim, since 2009.
Source: Open Doors USA
Father, as we read this story, we cry for "justice [to] roll like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (Amos 5:24) We long for the day when Christ returns, and true justice and peace are established. But for now, our hearts are filled with sorrow as we consider more lives unjustly taken. We lift before You our brothers and sisters in Nigeria as they grieve the loss of their loved ones, and live daily under the threat of additional attacks. Your church in Nigeria has been persecuted for so long; we pray today for respite from their suffering. Father, fill them with cool streams of peace, and wash away their sorrow… for a moment… giving them the strength to continue in Your name, and endure in the days ahead. In the name of Jesus, our refuge and stronghold. Amen