The Fulani herdsmen terrorists (FHT) are reportedly responsible for the killing of 800 Christians and moderate Muslims, as well as the destruction of at least 16 churches, in the latter part of 2016.
Christians in Nigeria have been the target of persecution and violence by the Boko Haram terror group since 2009, but according to a local bishop, the nomadic Fulani herdsmen have grown more violent, with hundreds of Christians slain in attacks initiated by the group.
"Fifty-three villages burned down, 808 people murdered and 57 wounded, 1,422 houses and 16 churches destroyed," Bishop Joseph Bagobiri of the Diocese of Kafanchan told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need about the situation of Christians in his area since September 2016.
Western media has limited coverage of the atrocities faced by Christians and other marginalized groups at the hands of FHTs, but they are a growing threat to Christians living in the area.
Fulani radicals and Christians have had conflicts throughout in history, originally over social and economic issues such as the distribution of farming lands. Bagobiri pointed out, however, that the "dimension of the problem has changed." It now includes religious hatred.
"The Fulani are Muslim and the land they are attacking belongs mainly to ethnic groups that are Christian; now there is religious hatred driving the violence," the bishop stated. Bagobiri also pointed out that these days, the FHT has "sophisticated weapons they didn't have before, such as AK-47s of unknown provenance," driving the intensity of the violence in attacks from FHT.
"The Fulani are Muslim and the land they are attacking belongs mainly to ethnic groups that are Christian; now there is religious hatred driving the violence," the bishop stated.
The bishop lamented that Christian persecution in Nigeria does not get the level of international attention as the plight of Middle Eastern Christians.