A pastor was hacked to death in Nigeria's central state of Nasarawa following a dispute with a Muslim man over the ownership of a small plot of land as the persecution of Christians continues to escalate in the country.
According to World Watch Monitor (WWM), Rev. Joseph Kurah, with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Obi town, was reportedly ambushed and killed by armed Fulani herdsmen last week after going to his farm to cut down trees for roofing wood.
A short time before the killing, Rev. Kurah and a local Muslim had argued over the ownership of the land, prompting local Christians to suspect that the Muslim hired the Fulani herdsmen to carry out the murder.
The attackers reportedly chased Rev. Kurah and surrounded, allowing his three companion to escape without harm. The pastor's body was found to be severely mutilated later on at the scene. He leaves behind a wife and seven children.
A man who identified himself as Rev. Kurah's nephew posted graphic photos of the killing on Twitter, saying: "They attacked him on his farm, cut off his arms and legs; then they chopped his head with a machete. I received a call on Thursday evening that my uncle, a pastor with ECWA was killed by Fulani herdsmen."
He also called on Nigerian authorities to find the killers: "All I want is justice to be done. Nasarawa State and the Federal Government must find the killers of my uncle. Whoever is close to Governor Al-Makura of Nasarawa State should please inform him that we demand the perpetrators should be brought to book...We have become preys that are hunted by marauding beasts in our land. I will keep shouting till justice is done. For how long will we suffer? He has left a very young family; three of his children are currently in the university. No one is saying anything about the clandestine killings by Fulani herdsmen happening almost every day."
Open Doors USA has placed Nigeria #12th on its World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. An estimated 30 million Christians in northern Nigeria form the largest minority in a mainly Muslim environment.
"For decades, Christians in the region have suffered marginalization and discrimination as well as targeted violence," reads the report.
Despite President Muhammadu Buhari's promises to protect believes in the country, the list shows a staggering 62% increase in violent killings of Christians in northern Nigeria.
In addition, Nigeria has Sharia courts in 12 northern states, and there have been cases where Christians and other minorities have been forcefully brought before such courts and suffered punishments such as caning, amputation and death by stoning for blasphemy and other offenses.
In light of this ongoing atrocities, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah recently called on the United States to do more to help Christians continually persecuted for their faith.
"We must go beyond condemning the excesses of the miscreants and the tragedy of Boko Haram and other violent groups and make a clear distinction between Islam and the horrible behavior of some members of the Muslim community," he said.
The Nigerian pastor expressed hope, however, that Christians in his country will be able to live at peace with their Muslim neighbors.
"I see a lot of hope," he told the National Catholic Reporter. "Christians believe in hope and hope does not disappoint. For me we have a lot of hope because of our shared humanity and the enthusiasm I see on the faces of our countrymen even in difficulties. [The Church is] focused on the area of education and providing for the sick and the weakest of society. We can create an environment where young people are living together, playing together, then we can have the hope for the future."