By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
JOS, NIGERIA (ANS) --
Members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the Jos region are fleeing their homes, fearful of more violence in the wake of last weekend’s mass killings in Plateau state, according to Open Doors News.
CCN officials told Open Doors News that after a week of rising tensions between the mainly Muslim ethnic Fulani and the mainly Christian ethnic Birom, about 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria around the village of Maseh had fled their homes, taking refuge July 7 in the home their pastor.
The gunmen came Saturday, entering the home and opening fire. Then they burned the house, Open Doors News reported.
“Fifty of our church members were killed in the church building where they had fled to take refuge. They were killed alongside the wife of the pastor and children,” said Rev. Dachollom Datiri, vice president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, in a July 11 interview with Open Doors News at the church’s headquarters in Jos.
Open Doors News reported that church officials said that in all, about 100 Church of Christ members were killed in the weekend attacks in 12 villages: Maseh, Ninchah, Kakkuruk, Kuzen, Negon, Pwabiduk, Kai, Ngyo, Kura Falls, Dogo, Kufang, and Ruk.
“In a country where Christians have suffered violence for more than a decade, last weekend’s mass killings nonetheless have left the Church of Christ, and much of the country, in shock,” the news report stated.
“They are psychologically traumatized, and their productive economic activities are impeded,” said Rev. Obed Dashan, general secretary of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, of surviving church members.
He added: “Most of them are peasant farmers and the attacks have not allowed them to go to their farms. Even those that have planted crops have had their crops destroyed by the Muslim attackers.”
Open Doors News went on to say that church leaders claim the Nigerian government is turning a blind eye to persecution of Christians in the country, and fear more violence will occur as a result.
“The whole thing is coming to a head,” Datiri said. “It’s been a long-term thing planned by the Boko Haram. This is a jihadist movement with the agenda to Islamize the country. It is a jihad, a religious war against Christians for refusing to embrace Islam. So, they are using terrorism as a weapon. That is the reason you see that the target of their attacks are Christians and our churches.”