Area residents described the assailants as Fulani herdsmen and the victims as a father and son, in text messages to Morning Star News.
Andrew Ekiyor, an area Christian leader, said those shot to death by herdsmen were one Mr. Egbejule and his son.
“Both were attacked as they were working on their farm,” Ekiyor said. “The herdsmen not only killed the two Christians but also pushed their cattle herds on the farms of the Christian victims, resulting in the destruction of the crops on the farm.”
The person wounded escaped and notified others in the community of the attack, he said.
“He was taken to the hospital, where he’s currently being treated for gunshot wounds,” he said. “The wounded escapee also disclosed that the herdsmen after attacking them succeeded in capturing some of our Christian villagers, who are now being held captive.”
Malati Wariebi, another resident, said, “Fulani herdsmen have attacked Toru-Agiama, a Christian village, killing a man and his son,” while Esharhire Gomet, confirmed that another Christian was shot and wounded.
“This is in addition to several other Christians who were kidnapped by the herdsmen,” Gomet said. “The attack occurred at about 11 a.m., Monday, Jan. 23.”
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
This article originally appeared here.