Terror on Christmas Eve: Gunmen's Deadly Assault in Nigeria Leaves 150 Dead

As many people around the world celebrate the Christmas season and the upcoming New Year, Nigerians are shocked and outraged after a massive armed attack in central Nigeria that saw 160 people dead and more than 300 others injured, with the number of dead and injured still expected to rise as families and authorities continue to search for the missing victims.

The armed assailants targeted 21 villages in Nigeria’s north-central Plateau State during the “senseless and unprovoked” attacks that began on December 23rd but continued throughout Christmas Eve. These villages, inhabited mainly by Christians, also had most of the houses burned down.

As I am talking to you, in Mangu local government alone, we buried 15 people. As of this morning, in Bokkos, we are counting not less than 100 corpses. I am yet to take stock of (the deaths in) Barkin Ladi,” the state’s governor, Caleb Mutfwang, said in a broadcast on local Channels Television.

It has been a very terrifying Christmas for us here in Plateau,” he added. 

A local district head in Bokkos said search teams looked for nearby bushes for missing villagers. Thousands of people have been displaced because of the attacks.

On December 26th, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Okoro Alawari, released a statement detailing that around 96 people were killed in two of the 20 local government areas (LGAs) — Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi — and 221 houses were burned.

The Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, CP Okoro Alawari, expresses grief over the deadly attacks that took place in some remote villages of Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State carried out by some yet-to-identified assailants on December 24, 2023, at odd hours of the night, and sympathizes with the families of those who lost their loved ones in the gruesome attack,” the statement read.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Still, locals in the state blame herders from the Muslim-majority Fulani tribe, who have been accused of carrying out armed attacks across the northwest and central regions of Nigeria, where conflict over access to land and water deepened the decadeslong division between predominantly Muslim herders and Christian farmers in Plateau State and elsewhere.

Amnesty International's country director for Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, called on authorities in Nigeria to investigate after the attack sparked outrage and criticism of the government, with witnesses and survivors saying that little security was present to repel the attacks, some of which lasted seven hours.

"It is really sad and unfortunate that these kinds of things continue to happen, and the authorities cannot do anything apart from sympathizing with the victims, which shows helplessness on their side,” Sanusi said. “Rural communities have been allowed to live in the last ten years or so at the mercy of gunmen."

The Nigerian army said it has already begun “clearance operations” to find the suspects with the help of other security agencies, even though arrests for such attacks are rare.

We will not rest until we bring all those culpable for these dastardly acts to book,” Abdullsalam Abubakar, who commands the army’s special intervention operation in Plateau and neighboring states, said. 

Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima, visited the affected villages on December 27th. The country’s President, Bola Tinubu, who came to power in 2023 promising to tackle the security challenges that haunt Nigeria, has yet to make a statement on the recent attacks. 

Even though the Nigerian authorities have condemned the attack and promised to hold the perpetrators accountable, some observers remain critical of the Nigerian government’s response.

"I think the government is not doing enough,” Security analyst Chukwudi Victor Odoeme said. ”There's still the absence of political will. It's an indictment on our government and security forces."

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.