Fulani Muslim herdsmen and soldiers killed at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians in Plateau state last week.
Many churches cancelled worship services as almost all area Christians have fled Plateau, which has long been hit by ethnic property conflicts fueled by anti-Christian sentiments. Last year, ethnic Berom Christians farmers were attacked by Fulani nomads who deliberately graze their cattle on Christian farmland.
The Fulani Muslims were shouting "Allahu Akbar," said farmer Choji Pamjamo.
David Gyang, 51, an elder at the Barkin Ladi church, said Muslims first attacked the church Nov. 23 and then launched an all-out offensive the next morning.
"Some of the Christian victims in this attack that I know include a Christian police officer, one Mr. Bulus, who is the station officer of the Barkin Ladi police station," Gyang said. "He was inside his house on that day, and these Muslims broke the walls of his room and went inside to kill him and his son."
Gyang said Muslim soldiers brought into town to restore order instead joined in killing the Christians.
"Muslims soldiers took sides with their fellow Muslims and were shooting and killing Christians," he said. "They also had soldiers guarding mosques in the town, but none was sent to watch over our churches, and that is the reason Muslims were able to burn the Baptist church."
Bitrus Davou and John David, two young Christian men who live near the church, said they barely escaped with their lives.
"Bullets fired at me by a Muslim soldier missed me and killed my dog," said Davou.
David said he and five friends were sitting in front of their house when a Muslim soldier began shooting at them.
"My friends ran inside the house, but I could not … so I jumped into an unfinished building beside my house," he said. "While there, the soldier spotted me and began shooting at me. It is a miracle that I escaped unhurt."
The Rev. Daniel Moses, pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All, said the violence was started by Muslims who had support from co-religionists from other regions of the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.
"As of this morning ( Nov. 27) corpses of Christians killed are still being recovered, but we can confirm that 37 corpses have been recovered already, and even as I talk to you the burial of some of them is going on in the surrounding Christian villages," he said.
Emmanuel Kyesmen, secretary of the ECWA congregation, said the government was loathe to address security concerns.
"As a church, we have become targets of attacks," he said. "Our pastors and members are being killed in Plateau state by Muslims, while thousands of others have become refugees in their fatherland. There is the urgent need for the Nigerian government to find a lasting solution to this problem."
According to Kyesmen, religious conflicts in Plateau date back to 2006 when several investigating committees were first instituted to investigate and report on the causes, but none of these reports has been implemented, and no individual has been made to face legal consequences.
David Alamba, 48, a technician, said many churches in town have been closed as most Christians have fled.
"Most Christians who live in Muslim quarters … have to get soldiers to accompany them before they get their few belongings to leave the town," he said. "You have to pay the soldiers at least 2,000 naira ($12) before they escort you to your house to get a few belongings before you move out of the town."
Alamba said Muslims are moving onto former Christian farms and destroying their crops.
"This is to chase us out of the town and make us homeless, and at the same time starve us to death, since we now have no food to eat," he said.
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