NIGERIA – ANOTHER MASSACRE OF CHRISTIANS IN JOS

Barnabas Fund. Following the terrible bloodshed in Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State, in January, there was another horrific massacre in March. In the early hours of Sunday morning 7 March, men from the Muslim Fulani tribe, armed with swords and machetes, arrived in Zot, Dogo Nahauwa and Rastat, three mainly Christian villages south of the city. The villagers were woken by the terrifying sound of gunshots; the noise was so loud that frightened residents ran out of their houses on to the streets, where the attackers were waiting for them. Local police say 109 people were killed, but other sources suggest this figure could be much higher, perhaps up to 500. Many of the victims were among the most defenceless – elderly people, women and children as young as four days old. The next day dozens of bodies were buried in a mass grave as Christians looked on, singing hymns to Jesus. All the churches in Dogo Nahawa had been burned down and many homes had been torched. Hundreds of Christians have fled their homes, fearing further attacks. A number of prominent local and international figures have reacted with horror to the slaughter. The Archbishop of Jos has called the attacks “systematic and quite well organised”, while US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called on Nigeria to find and punish those responsible for the killings. On 11 March it was reported that 49 people are to be charged with murder; most of those facing charges are Fulani Muslims.

Some media sources have reported that this massacre was in retaliation for an attack on Muslims in January where up to 300 people died (see Prayer Focus Update March 2010). However, it is clear that this earlier violence was started by Muslims who attacked a church in Jos. Christian leaders in Nigeria acknowledge that some Christians retaliated and do not condone their actions, but there is no evidence to suggest that their response was on the size or scale reported in the media. The church leaders also think that Muslims have carried false reports about the conflict to the international media in order to discredit the Church. Confirmation of this view may be found in a video report produced by the Aljazeera news channel in co-operation with Jama’atu Nasril Islam, a powerful Nigerian Muslim organization. This video gives the impression that the January violence was simply a massacre of Muslims by Christians, but it also appears to use footage from other contexts altogether, spliced in to give bogus support to its story. On 17 March, Christians were again the victims when a group of Muslims armed with machetes killed at least twelve in Bei, a village some 20 miles from Jos. The dead included three children and four teenage girls. The attackers cut out the tongues of their victims. • Pray for those who have lost loved ones in the violence in January and March. Pray that the Lord Jesus will bring healing and comfort to those left traumatized by the atrocities. • Pray for wisdom for the Nigerian government and authorities and that the perpetrators of the recent violence will be brought to justice. Pray that the country as a whole will not be destabilized. • Pray that our Heavenly Father will intervene in this troubled land and that He will grant grace to Christians in Jos to stand together in their sorrow and forgive their attackers.

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