Photo: Regina Luka on her hospital bed after attack in Plateau state
KOGOM TAH, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Regina Luka does not know whether it was rogue soldiers or Islamic terrorists who invaded her dual-family dwelling here and killed 10 Christians; she only knows her husband and two young children are dead.
The 20-year-old Luka was recovering from gunshot and machete wounds on her legs and back when she spoke with Morning Star News about the attack on Feb. 21 in Kogom Tah, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Jos in central Nigeria’s Plateau state.
From her bed at Vom Christian Hospital about six miles from the village, she said she and her brother-in-law’s family had gathered in front of their joint-home compound to discuss burial arrangements for their recently deceased grandfather when gunmen began shooting sporadically at them.
“I ran into our house and straight into our bedroom to take cover and to ensure that my children were safe, but minutes after getting into the room, some gunmen forced their way into the room, shooting and cutting anyone they found with machetes,” the tearful Luka recounted.
Flying bullets forced her to dive under a bed, but the assailants dragged her out, cut her back with a machete and shot her buttocks and leg.
“Six of us had run into that room, but five were killed while I was the lone survivor in the room,” Luka said. “Those who attacked us thought I was dead, and so they left.”
In that bedroom, her 30-year-old brother-in-law, Jacob Musa, was killed along with his wife, Naomi Jacob, 25, and their three children: Blessing Jacob, 5; Dachollom Jacob, 4; and Ayuba Jacob, 1. Killed in another room in the dwelling was her husband, Luka, and their two children, 4-year-old Aaron Luka and 2-year-old Mary Luka.
Also killed were relatives Dawan Musa, 18, and 15-year-old Benjamin Joseph.
Along with Regina Luka, 15-year-old John Dalyop was wounded in the attack. A nurse at the hospital, Chundung Badung, said Regina Luka’s gunshot and machete wounds were very serious and that she had required a blood transfusion.
“Right now she cannot afford to pay for medical bills, because her husband and children were killed in the attack,” Badung said. “So an NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] has provided her with some free medications. She needs support from others who may be moved by the Spirit to assist her.”
The slain relatives had worshiped at New Life Christ Church, one of four churches in Kogom Tah village. The Rev. John Mwatbang, the 58-year-old pastor of their church, said he was sitting with his family at home at about 7:30 p.m. when he heard gunshots about two kilometers away.
“I quickly instructed my family to remain indoors while I found out what was going on there,” he said. “I knew that members of my church must be in danger, as I heard shootings without end. By the time I got to Regina’s house, the attackers had left, and I saw 10 dead bodies in the compound.”
The identities of the assailants were unknown. Ethnic Fulani herders, primarily Muslim, have longstanding tribal conflict with predominantly Christian farmers from the Berom tribe, and Islamic terrorist groups have aided and encouraged Fulani attacks on Christian areas.
Some residents reportedly said the assailants wore military uniforms, and others said Special Task Force (STF) personnel charged with preventing such attacks did not come after receiving emergency calls. An STF spokesman later said local residents attacked the STF forces, preventing them from reaching the site. Claiming the assailants were STF soldiers, Vwang District head Choji Balack reportedly said the Fulani could not “carry out such shooting.”
Whether Fulanis, trained terrorists or Muslim extremist soldiers breaking ranks with the STF, Mwatbang and other residents said the onslaught had all the markings of previous Islamist assaults.
“There is no doubt that this is an Islamic agenda,” Mwatbang told Morning Star News. “It is a plan to wipe us Christians out of this part of Nigeria.”
The pastor, whose church was established in 1960 and has about 350 members, said that in spite of complaints to the Nigerian government about how the area has become a terrorist target, the administration has made no serious effort at protection. The slaughter was the second in the area in less than a year, he said.
Plateau state lies between Nigeria’s primarily Muslim north and largely Christian south. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Nigerians practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.
For the surviving members of the Kogom Tah Christian community, village life feels like walking through a minefield.
“We do not know the hour or the time the attackers would come back to attack us again,” said a resident who declined to give his name.
c. 2013 Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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Publication date: March 11, 2013