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Nigerian Christian leaders say Muslims 'forcefully' take Christians' property
Muslims in Nigeria have launched a "deliberate economic terrorism and land-grabbing strategy" against Christians, according to Christian leaders in the West African country.
While attacks in Nigeria by Fulani ethnic militants - groups of semi-nomadic, Muslim herders - have reduced with 630 fewer deaths by these militias in 2015 according to the latest Global Terrorism Index, religious leaders have said the issue is far from over.
President of Berom Youth Movement, Choji Chuwang, told a local newspaper: "As we gleefully wallow in the false sense of peace on the Plateau, know it today that a deliberate economic terrorism and land-grabbing strategy is being launched on Christians of Riyom and Barkin Ladi on a daily basis with the sole aim of making them poor, weak and destitute in their own land."
The clashes used to be confined to Nigeria's central region, with the mainly Christian Berom farming community in Plateau state engaging in tit-for-tat killings with Muslim nomadic herders.
However, the continued effect of climate change on grazing lands has pushed the Fulani herdsmen further south in search of grass and water, widening the scope of the conflict in southern parts of the country.
Chuwang told the local newspaper that while Plateau state officials say "relative peace" prevails, herdsmen attacks in the past eight months saw a pastor and his five year old son injured, four Christian women raped, 12 Christians injured and two communities displaced in attacks on 17 villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas.
President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Fulani, has responded to public outcry and ordered the security forces to crack down on the cattle raiders.
Chuwang said encroachments and attacks should not be ignored.
He added: "If this doesn't disturb us collectively as Plateau people, then let's keep playing the ostrich as they forcefully take Plateau state inch by inch, day by day."
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