Gunmen attacked two churches in rural northwestern Nigeria on Sunday. Sadly, three people died; many more were kidnapped. The attack comes just weeks after a similar attack in the West African nation.
The attack in Kajuru area of Kaduna State targeted four villages. That resulted in the abduction of an unknown number of residents and the destruction of houses before the assailants managed to escape, locals say.
Many of the attacks in rural areas in Nigeria’s troubled northern region are similar. Motorcycle-riding gunmen often arrive in hundreds in areas where Nigeria’s security forces are outnumbered and outgunned. It usually takes months for the police to make arrests. Finally, authorities have identified the attackers as mostly young herdsmen from the Fulani tribe. The men are caught up in Nigeria’s rural conflicts over limited access to water and land.
It wasn’t immediately clear if that was who was behind yesterday’s attack. Much of Nigeria has struggled with security issues. Kaduna is one of the worst-hit states. At least 32 people died in the Kajuru area last week in an attack across four villages.
Sunday morning, worshippers were attending the church service at the Maranatha Baptist Church and at St. Moses Catholic Church in Rubu community of Kaduna when “[the assailants] just came and surrounded the churches.” Both houses of worship are located in the same area, says Usman Danladi, who lives nearby.
“Before they [the worshippers] noticed, they were already terrorizing them,” Danladi says. He adds that “most of the victims kidnapped are from the Baptist [church] while the three killed were Catholics.”
The Kaduna state government confirmed the three deaths. They say bandits “stormed the villages on motorcycles, beginning from Ungwan Fada, and moving into Ungwan Turawa, before Ungwan Makama and then Rubu.” Security patrols are being conducted in the general area” as investigations proceed, according to Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna commissioner for security.
The Christian Association of Nigeria condemned Sunday’s attacks. It says churches in Nigeria have become “targets” of armed groups.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the association’s spokesman, expresses sadness about the attacks, especially “when we are yet to come out of the mourning of those killed in Owo two Sundays ago, another one has happened in Kaduna.”
Pray for grace, mercy, and peace for the families of those killed or kidnapped in Nigeria.
Pray for one another. . . . The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. — James 5:16
(Police stand guard at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, on June 17, 2022. AP/Rahaman A Yusuf)