Nigeria: a dozen deaths in the attack on a church in Benue State

In Nigeria, two Catholic priests and at least 16 worshipers were killed in an attack on a church attributed to pastoralists in the middle-belt of the country, which has been the target of community clashes for several months. Led by some 30 gunmen, the attack occurred early on the morning of April 24, at a funeral mass in the village of Mbalom, Benue State.

The attackers broke into the church during a funeral ceremony in the village of Mbalom, Benue State, eastern Nigeria. They killed two priests and at least 16 faithful, all shot in cold blood, according to witnesses cited by Agence France-Press, who also reported several wounded.

The attackers also reportedly looted more than 60 houses and food barns. Terrorized from the first shots, the population fled to neighbouring localities.

The diocese of Makurdi, the capital of the state of Benue, condemned the violence that has fallen on one of its churches. President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that the culprits will pay for committing sacrilege “aimed at fuelling religious tensions”.

Locally, the reaction was not long in coming. In Makurdi, hundreds of angry young people took to the streets to protest before being dispersed.

The attackers are said to be herders, according to witnesses. Hence the concern of retaliation, in a region shaken for months by new community clashes between sedentary farmers of Christian faith and nomadic herders mainly Peul and Muslim.

The army deployed at the beginning of the year, particularly in the state of Benue where the events occurred, clearly failed to prevent the violence.

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