Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors has said that Christian communities in central Nigeria are being increasingly targeted by Islamic fighters during the current period of coronavirus lockdown. Armed radicals have struck several villages in two states north of the capital Abuja - all of which are under strict stay-at-home orders - leaving 32 dead.
"These are horrific, opportunistic attacks on people who are defenceless in their homes during lockdown,” said Jo Newhouse, regional spokesperson for Open Doors.
"The Government needs to ensure the safety of all Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdowns and to address the impunity with which attacks like these continue.”
One attack saw Fulani militants launch a vicious assault on a local Christian community in Plateau State. Attacking on 1st April, the fighters shot three people dead and set fire to at least 17 houses.
"There were so many that nobody could resist them," said community leader Sunay Abdul.
“They burnt houses at random, burnt four cars and killed three people while seven others sustained various degrees of injuries.”
Plateau State’s villages of Kperie and Gbra-Zongo have also been targeted in recent weeks.
“The Fulani gunmen arrived in the community and started shooting and burning houses, an operation which lasted till 1am,” said chairman of the Miango Youth Development Association, Mr Nuhu Nkali.
Nkali added: “So many of our people are now homeless, because their houses have been burnt by the assailants.
“We don’t know what we have done to warrant this wickedness against our people. The community made efforts to alert security agents, but nothing was done to prevent it.”
Newhouse added: “If people are going to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to feel safe from terrible attacks like this.”
According to the Open Doors World Watch List 2020, some 1,350 Christians were killed in Nigeria last year.