Another Terrorist Attack on Nigerian Catholic parish

Another Terrorist Attack on Nigerian Catholic parish

Map of Nigeria. / Shutterstock

An early Sunday morning terrorist raid in north-central Nigeria severely wounded a Roman Catholic congregation.

“We lost three of our parishioners, and 36 people were kidnapped, the majority of whom were Catholics,” Father Francis Agba, pastor of St. Moses Church in Rubu, told CNA via text message.

This is the third attack against this village in this month alone and the latest of 15 attacks in the 17 outstations of the parish this year,” he added. Agba is the head of St. Augustine’s Parish which has 17 churches, one of which is St. Moses.

The three churches were located in the Rubu group of villages in Kajuru County, which is located in north-central Nigeria, 30 miles south of Kaduna City. Maranatha Baptist and Evangelical Church Winning All were two more churches that were targeted.

According to Jonathan Asake, the leader of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), the umbrella organization for all Christian communities in the State, the abductees included 31 ladies and five boys.

Father Francis Agba, pastor of St. Moses Church in Rubu, Nigeria. Courtesy of Father Francis Agba
Father Francis Agba, pastor of St. Moses Church in Rubu, Nigeria. Courtesy of Father Francis Agba

Reporters spoke to worshippers who said they had chosen to attend the 7 a.m. service in an effort to decrease the likelihood of being the victims of terrorists who have frequently attacked the town in previous years.

These plans were foiled by the terrorists. According to Agba, the pastor of St. Moses, when the gunfire began, the congregation members fled toward the jungle, but three of them perished.

The following day, there was again another attack.

According to Stingo Usman, a prominent member of the Maraban Kajuru community, the settlement of Gwando, 10 miles east of Rubu, was overrun by terrorists on Monday. Usman claimed that although the peasants’ cattle were rustled, no one was killed because they fled into the forest.

An hour after the raid in Rubu started, Nigerian security personnel made an effort to respond, but they reversed course when they learned that the bandits had fled the town with their hostages, according to Usman.

According to Usman, “the military then decided to meet the bandits at Kutura Station, but that endeavor was abandoned due to terrible roads.” Mohammad Jaliga Kumo, the Kaduna Police spokesperson, did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.

According to Asake, the attacks are a component of a deliberate plan by Fulani bandit gangs to drive the predominantly Christian farmers out of their fields in southern Kaduna.

The early-morning attacks on Sunday came nine days after a bandit attack on three villages 12 miles apart on June 5 that resulted in 32 fatalities and 12 injuries, according to Asake.

According to the villagers who were attacked in the operation on June 5, a helicopter hovered over the village and fired bullets, killing or injuring locals instead of the terrorists.

The assertion was refuted by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Public Security, but the people have stuck to their version of what happened.

27 villagers were kidnapped during that earlier operation, mostly women. Asake reported that the kidnappers have since made contact with family members using the victims’ cell phones and requested a ransom payment of $1,300 for each victim.

“We told the bandits that most of the captured women are widows whose husbands were killed in previous attacks,” Asake said.

“Their answer was that the women could be returned in lieu of a promise that our villagers will not go to their farms carrying any weapons,” he said. “They cannot carry even a machete, making them utterly defenseless during the next attack.”

“The International Committee on Nigeria believes the Fulani militants have an attack strategy to instill fear, cause displacement, and allow occupation of Christian farms,” Kyle Abts, executive director of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), told CNA. The goal is to disrupt these farmers from generating a harvest and a wage.

After leaving the area, these lands will be re-occupied by Fulani herders and their families,” Abts said.

According to reports from the U.S. Department of State and analysts with the Council on Foreign Relations, the recent attacks on Christian churches are the consequence of “communal violence” and “clashes over land and water supplies.”

Those descriptions are utterly false, according to human rights experts who talked with CNA. They claim that the atrocities in Kajuru are a component of a long-term effort by extremist Muslims to convert all of Nigeria to Islam.

Since 2001, more over 350,000 people have died as a result of extensive terrorist attacks, jihadist insurgencies, and Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa, according to Abts of ICON.

“The overall aim of the terrorists is economical and partly religious,” Father Agba said. “Partly religious, because many Muslims have fallen victim, too, but the frequency of the attacks is much more on the predominantly Christian parts of the state.”

Dr. Murtala Rufa’i, a historian at Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University in Sokoto and a bandit expert, claims that the gangs that have terrorized the state of Kaduna with mass abductions of university students and groups of motorists on the highways have become rich and powerful since they first appeared in the northwest state of Zamfara in 2011.

According to experts, five of Nigeria’s northwest states are home to between 10,000 and 30,000 bandit terrorists.

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