By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– A feud between the Kona and Mumuye tribes in eastern Nigeria has resulted in the deaths of as many as 100 people, including Christians, more than previous estimates, missionaries said Thursday, July 14.
Police officials earlier said about a dozen people were killed since tribal fighting erupted last Sunday, July 10, in the country’s Taraba State.
Among those killed are at least four believers “brought to Christ” by local missionaries of Missionary Crusaders Ministries, explained U.S.-based Christian Aid Mission (CAM) which supports the group. Additionally, “entire villages have been burned, including the homes of 25 native Christians,” CAM told BosNewsLife in a statement.
Over 1,000 people have fled the clashes to the nearby state capital Jalingo, taking refuge in the local Jolly Nyame Stadium, while hundreds are hiding in a nearby government-run secondary school, officials said.
CAM suggested that clashes have erupted over land claimed by the Mumuye in an area where the Kona lived for generations and refuse to relinquish.
It said Missionary Crusaders Ministries also set up a camp for 500 displaced families. “Ministry leader, Gabriel Barau, contacted Christian Aid [Mission] for help to provide tents, blankets, food, clothing, and medicine. Approximately $15,000 is immediately needed for initial provisions which will be used as a means to share Christ with these desperate people who have lost everything” CAM explained.
Bibles in the local Hausa language ($10 each) are also needed, according to missionaries.
CAM said its partners have been active in the region since 1993 when local missionaries discovered “that the Kona people had never heard the name of Jesus.”
“Extremely resistant to the Gospel, the Kona have proved a challenging mission field. After laboring seven years without a single convert, Missionary Crusaders Ministries found success through meeting practical needs. The establishment of a primary and secondary school brought several Kona youth to Christ,” CAM reported.
Later, Missionary Crusaders Ministries “drilled five wells in Kona villages, opened a clinic, and sent trained health workers into the Kona community,” CAM said, adding that missionaries have also planted ten churches in Kona villages.
They also started reached Mumuye people since late 2008, according to CAM investigators.
“The Mumuye culture is steeped in witchcraft and idol worship. They worship the sun as the supreme being, and regularly offer sacrifices to images of gods and the skulls of ancestors,” CAM added.
News of the latest clashes comes as Nigeria is also coping with deadly attacks by suspected Islamic militants of Boko Haram, a group fighting to spread shariah, or Islamic law. Several people have died in recent days in bombings against churches and security forces. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).