A group of under-armed locals successfully drove away a gang of 15 heavily armed terrorists who came in the dead of night to assassinate a priest in north-central Nigeria, wrote a former U.S. State Department official Tuesday.
The attempted assassination took place last Thursday night in Kaduna State, an area divided between Muslims and Christians, north of the capital of Abuja, Nigeria.
Writing for the Washington Times, Douglas Burton said that the would-be assassination of Father Joseph “Big Joe” Kwasau “was foiled by good-Samaritan neighbors who beat back terrorists with primitive weapons,” referring to homemade hunting rifles and bows and arrows.
Father Kwasau’s security guard, 38-year-old Samuel Jerome, was killed in the raid.
“I think they were paid by somebody to kill me,” Father Kwasau said. “There is an attempt in Nigeria to exterminate all pastors and priests so that the majority of the people will become just nothing, in effect, their slaves.”
Over the last three years, dozens of Christian clergy have been murdered in Nigeria. On Thursday evening, another Roman Catholic priest, Father Paul Offu, was gunned down in the state of Enugu in South-Eastern Nigeria, allegedly by Muslim herdsmen.
Father Kwasau was interviewed Saturday at a safe house by Reuben Buhari, a War Desk News reporter.
“I saw death face to face, and I am alive only by God’s grace and a steel door. They used an axe on it, but they couldn’t get in,” Father Kwasau said.
“I heard the barking of my dog, followed by sporadic shooting around my parish house and heard my security man shouting for help and saying thieves had invaded the house,” Father Kwasau said.
“I was all alone in the house on Thursday when the noise started, then it was followed by furious banging on my front door, but it didn’t yield to their attempt, despite using axes and bullets on it. They later moved to one of my windows and broke it but couldn’t get in because of the iron fortification. All the while they continued shooting into the air to keep away locals that I knew would be attracted by the noise,” he said.
“I tried calling the local security commanders stationed close to my house without success. I also called some of my parishioners,” Father Kwasau said.
Local residents of the predominantly Christian Adara tribe have reportedly done their best to arm themselves for self-defense after 11 terrorist attacks in the region over the last six months have killed as many as 400 of the Adara people.
On Saturday, the head of a group representing Southern Kaduna State’s Adara people, issued a press statement complaining of the dereliction of duty by police stationed near Father Kwasau’s parish residence.
During the attack, “the kidnappers were shooting [within] hearing of several police and military personnel stationed in several places a few hundred meters away,” said the statement released by Awemi Dio Maisamari, the president of the Adara Development Association.