Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked two predominantly Christian villages in north-central Nigeria after beating, raping and killing a 19-year-old Christian woman in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday (March 23), her father said.
Danlami Mante told Morning Star News that armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed Joy Danlami and her two younger siblings as they were returning to Mante village, Nasarawa state, at about 2 a.m. after the Christians attended a community feast in Katanza village, Akwanga County. His younger daughter, 16-year-old Patience Danlami, and 14-year-old son, Aboy Danlami, escaped with gunshot and machete wounds, he said.
"The armed herdsmen chased them with dangerous weapons," Mante told Morning Star News. "Joy's nose and face was battered, and then she was sexually assaulted by the herdsmen before being killed. She was shot."
After the ambush, the herdsmen proceeded to the family's native Mante village, where they burned down 17 houses, he said. They then rampaged through Nidan village, burning another 11 homes. They also burned two Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) buildings and two belonging to the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) in the two villages, Mante said. His family belongs to the local ERCC congregation.
Hundreds of Christians displaced in the attacks have taken refuge in Akwanga town.
Pastor Samson Gamu Yare, leader of the Mada ethnic group in Nasarawa state, confirmed the attacks to Morning Star News by phone and appealed to security agencies to send personnel to the area. A resident of Akwanga town, Yare urged the federal government make urgent efforts to stem the tide of herdsmen attacks.
"We are faced with the burden of caring for those who fled the two villages in order to escape from the herdsmen carnage," Yare told Morning Star News.
Samuel Meshi, chairman of the Akwanga Local Government Council, said by phone that officials are making efforts to assist the displaced villagers.
"We have informed the Nasarawa state government about the incident, and hopefully relief materials would be made available to those displaced in the attacks," Meshi said.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.