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'A Very Terrifying Christmas': 140 Villagers Massacred in Christian Area of Nigeria

FILE: The remains of a motorcycle after an attack in Nigeria, Dec. 5, 2023.  (AP Photo Kehinde Gbenga)
FILE: The remains of a motorcycle after an attack in Nigeria, Dec. 5, 2023. (AP Photo Kehinde Gbenga)

FILE PHOTO: The remains of a motorcycle after an attack in Nigeria, Dec. 5, 2023.  (AP Photo Kehinde Gbenga)

Muslims in Nigeria have once again massacred scores of Christians, this time carrying out widespread atrocities in multiple locations on Christmas Eve.

At least 140 people were murdered by gunmen who attacked remote villages over two days in Christian areas of north-central Nigeria’s Plateau state. In addition, at least 221 homes were burned, International Christian Concern reported Tuesday.

It's the latest round of mass killings in an ongoing war of ethnic cleansing against Christians in the West African nation. The secular news media blame it on a "farmer-herder crisis," but the attacks are typically carried out by Muslim Fulani herdsmen targeting Christian communities to take their land and resources.

This time the assailants targeted 17 neighborhoods during another round of “senseless and unprovoked” attacks, burning down most of the houses in the areas, according to Plateau Gov. Caleb Mutfwang.

“As I am talking to you, in Mangu local government alone, we buried 15 people. As of this morning, in Bokkos, we are counting not less than 100 corpses. I am yet to take stock of (the deaths in) Barkin Ladi,” Gov. Mutfwan said. “It has been a very terrifying Christmas for us here in Plateau."

Amnesty International Nigeria's office says it has confirmed 140 deaths so far in the Christian-dominated Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi areas, but a higher death toll is feared because more people are missing. 

Locals report it took more than 12 hours before security forces responded to their call for help, a common problem for Nigeria's Christians who have lost thousands of loved ones in recent years.

“I called security but they never came. The ambush started 6 in the evening but security reached our place by 7 in the morning,” said Sunday Dawum, a youth leader in Bokkos. At least 27 people were killed in his village, Mbom Mbaru, including his brother.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu was elected this year after promising to help tackle the ongoing bloodshed that his predecessor failed to address. He has yet to make any public comments about the latest attacks days after they happened.

Amnesty International Nigeria Director Isa Sanusi said Tinubu’s government, just like previous leaders, hasn't taken any “tangible action” to protect lives and ensure justice for victims. “Sometimes they claim to make arrests but there is no proof they have done so … The brazen failure of the authorities to protect the people of Nigeria is gradually becoming the ‘norm,’" he said.

*** This report was compiled using material from International Christian Concern and AP.

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