Nigerian Christians saved when Muslim imam hid them from Fulani attackers

3 July 2018

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A group of 262 Christian farmers fleeing a murderous attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen were saved when they were given shelter by an imam (leader of a mosque or Muslim community).

The village, in the Barkin Local Government Area in Plateau State, was attacked by around 300 armed men, reportedly Fulani cattle herders, on Sunday 24 June. The gang opened fire killing scores of Christians and set fire to people’s homes and the local church.

Some Christian families escaped from the gunmen to a mainly Muslim village nearby. A local imam took in 262 people, hiding women and children in his home, and taking the men to the mosque.

An imam hid 262 Christians until the Fulani left the area
Image source: BBC

The armed attackers stormed into the village in pursuit of the Christians, confronting the imam and threatening to burn down his house and mosque. The imam refused to allow the gunmen in, insisting everyone inside was Muslim. Other villagers joined him in pleading with the Fulani until they left the area.

The imam told the BBC he had wanted to help because, 40 years ago, Christians in the area had allowed Muslims to build the mosque. He said it was the first time he had experienced such “an ugly incident” in all the years of Muslims living in a neighbouring village to the Christian farmers.

Around 200 people died in attacks on eleven villages over the weekend of 23 and 24 June. Semi-nomadic Fulani cattle herders, who raid Christian villages and set fire to properties before taking over their land, have been blamed for the bloodshed.

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