Christians attacked and killed by Islamic fanatics in Nigeria

Christian Solidarity World Wide
July 18 2002

Christians in the Plateau State of central Nigeria have been killed and forced
from their land by extremist Islamic militants.

Attacks have been mounted against Christians in the area surrounding Jos,
leaving several dead and many more wounded and displaced.

Christians in a village outside Jos were roused from sleep by church bells at
5am on a morning at the end of June. When they began making their way to church
thinking it was the bell for morning prayers, they were ambushed by Islamic
militants from the Hausa and Fulani tribes. Four were killed and 20 injured.

During the last three weeks of June, several churches were burned, shops and
homes looted and Christian property destroyed in Yelwa Shendam. Christians were
chased out of the town and were forced to take refuge in Jos.

In a separate incident in Wase, Christians were attacked and killed and no
church building was left standing. Farmland and crops were destroyed and all
the Christians there were forced to flee to Langtan.

Sporadic attacks have also been reported in Berakin Ladi, Vom and Miango,
leaving several dead in each attack.

At least a thousand Christians are refugees scattered between Mban, Pil and
Langtan, and Christian leaders in the area have organised refugee camps and
have recorded evidence of the atrocities.

Bishop Ben Kwashi of Jos said: "We are facing a new Muslim onslaught. Terror
has been released on the majority Christian population of the Plateau. As in
Sudan, the church in these areas continues to be lively and fervent in faith in
spite of their hardships. Our faith in our suffering is producing much fruit.
Even now the congregations that are barely a month old are still zealous for
Christ. We are losing material possessions and hanging on to Jesus alone."

CSW calls on the Nigerian Government to intervene with sufficient security
forces to end these attacks on innocent people.

CSW also calls on local Muslim leaders to be a voice of moderation when
confronted by violent provocateurs from outside the region.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with
all those who have seen loved ones murdered by these rampaging mobs.

"The destruction and upheaval of whole communities is a devastating development
in this part of Nigeria and moderate voices on all sides must be heeded.
Regardless of whether this violence is politically or religiously motivated, we
call on all concerned to work for constructive dialogue leading to a lasting
peace."

For more information, or pictures of Nigeria or of Bishop Ben, please contact
Christian Solidarity Worldwide on 020 8942 8810

NOTES TO EDITORS:
Although Nigeria is by constitution a secular state, Muslims in power in the
North have been implementing Shari'ah law and seeking to apply it to
Christians.

Christians in Northern cities such as Kaduna have, in the past two years, been
attacked and thousands have been killed and their homes destroyed. Until
recently, Jos and its surrounding areas were a relatively quiet area where
Christians lived side by side with their Muslim neighbours.

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