Islamic militants slaughter 49 Christians in Nigeria raid

( [email protected] ) Feb 27, 2004 06:54 PM EST

Islamic militants massacred 49 believers in a raid on the Christian town of Yelwa in Nigeria's Plateau state Tuesday, February 24.

Plateau Police Commissioner Innocent Ilozuoke told reporters that most of the victims had been shot as they ran to a church, desperately seeking refuge. The attackers are thought to have been mostly ethnic Fulani Muslims. Local security sources indicate that the merciless guerrilla tactics used in the assault suggest Islamist fighters from Chad and Niger may also have been involved. Police and army units were sent to the town to restore order.

Local Christians in Plateau state have suffered repeated attacks from ethnic Hausa/Fulani Muslim settlers since September 2001. Hundreds have been killed in the violence. Local Christians believe militant elements within the Muslim community are working a strategy to drive out Christians and "Islamize" the entire state.