JOS, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- Islamic fighters have shot dead Christians in a roadside ambush near Nigeria's central city of Jos, church representatives said Monday, September 2.
Those killed in the attack, four kilometers (2.5 miles) off the Jos-Barkin Kadi Highway, were members of a Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) congregation in the nearby town of Foron, according to church officials.
The Christians had been ordered out of a minibus and forced to lay on the ground before being shot last Thursday, August 29, because of their faith, the COCIN denomination leadership and a witness said.
Those killed were identified as Pam Gyang, 33, Felix John, 32, as well as Jimmy Tiger, 28, Ishaku Gyang, 40, and Dachung Monday, 20.
Christian news agency Morning Star News quoted the local pastor Pam Jang Pam as saying that the assailants "were a combined band of ethnic Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist mercenaries."
Also wounded, he added, were two other as yet unidentified Christians, including a pregnant woman.
Technical school student Emmanuel Sunday, who said he rode his motorbike near the murder scene, told media that he had seen the Christians and that gunmen stopped him to ask about his religion.
“When I told them I was a Christian, they asked me to join a group of people already ordered to lie down by the side of the road. I did as I was ordered to do, and then one of the men came and searched me and took money from me, including my mobile phone,” Morning Star News quoted him as saying.
“It was when the gunmen started shooting and killing those of us that were Christians grouped together that I ran into a nearby maize farm, because it was already dark. They shot wildly at me, but I escaped unhurt, except the injuries I sustained while running in the bush.”
He said God helped him escaped to tell the story and "show the miracle" in his life.
The pregnant widow of Pam Gyang, 28-year-old Grace Yop Gyang, said in published remarks that her husband is also survived by their two daughters and a son.
She said she was praying that "through his death those who killed him will get to know Jesus as their savior.”
Jos and other areas of Nigeria have been the scene of sectarian violence in which thousands have died in recent years. Church leaders have accused better armed Muslim groups of attacking impoverished Christians who have less abilities to defend themselves.
Aggression towards Christians has been fueled by Boko Haram, or 'Western Education is a Sin', a militant group fighting for an Islamic state within the troubled African nation.
Christians comprise roughly 40 percent of Nigeria's nearly 175 million people, with Muslims and people with indigenous beliefs making up the rest, according to the U.s. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other estimates.