Date:  October 10, 2023

Gunmen ambush them on a farm.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent

Sultan Bello Mosque in the city of Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Anasskoko, Creative Commons)

Sultan Bello Mosque in the city of Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Anasskoko, Creative Commons)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Terrorists on Saturday (Oct. 7) kidnapped more than 30 Christians in southern Kaduna state, Nigeria, residents said.

The assailants ambushed and took the Christians away at gunpoint at about 11 a.m. as they worked on a communal farm in Chikuri, Chikun County, said area resident Victor Dabo in a text message.

“Over 30 Christian farmers who were cultivating a farm have been abducted in one fell swoop,” Dabo told Morning Star News. “Please pray for the Chikuri Christian community.”

Another resident, Dogara Peter, said his mother and sister were among those kidnapped as they worked on the farm.

“The terrorists kidnapped 30 of our Christian villagers as they were working on a farm which belongs to Mr. Maikudi, an elderly member of our community,” Peter told Morning Star News. “My mother and sister are among those kidnapped by the terrorists. This incident has thrown our community into confusion. The terrorists are yet to contact us more than 24 hours after the abduction of our family members.”

The abductions marked the third time the terrorists have invaded their traumatized community, he said. Saying the community’s last hope lay with police, other security agencies and the Nigerian government, he issued an appeal for them to rescue those held captive.

“We make this appeal because we have nowhere to raise money for payment of ransom if these terrorists eventually ask us to do so, as has been the norm in the other two attacks on our community,” Peter said.

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 2020 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.