The violence against Christians in Plateau State, Nigeria, has reached crisis point, as churches and families struggle to defend themselves against increasing Islamic threats.
Reports from Barnabas Fund have revealed the extent of the tragedy unfolding since the re-election of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan, in April this year.
Most recently, a Christian family of eight was hacked to death by Muslim youths — the latest of many fatalities in Plateau State. Six of the family members were children, butchered in the village of Tatu.
Four more people died in the predominantly Christian village of Dabwak, while more than 40 Muslims and Christians died in Jos after fighting erupted during Eid celebrations.
Some reports have suggested the security forces were to blame for many deaths, as they used ‘excessive force’ on civilians. According to Barnabas Fund, more than 1000 people have been killed in sectarian violence in Jos over the past two years.
Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, fighting to establish an Islamic state in the north, is targeting Christians, security officers, politicians and Muslim opponents.
In September, an outspoken Muslim cleric who had criticised the group and who had called for an end to the violence, was shot dead in a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants in Maiduguri.
The group claimed responsibility for a bomb blast, at the United Nations’ Abuja headquarters on 26 August, that killed 23 people and wounded a further 81.