- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Islamists gunned down five people in a roadside ambush near Nigeria’s central city of Jos, only killing them after they declared their Christian faith, church representatives said Monday.

Pam Gyang, 33, Felix John, 32, as well as Jimmy Tiger, 28, Ishaku Gyang, 40, and Dachung Monday, 20, were all members of a Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) congregation in the nearby town of Foron, BosNewsLife reported.

Islamists reportedly forced the victims out of a minibus and ordered them to lie on the ground before shooting them on Aug. 29.

Christian news agency Morning Star News quoted the local pastor, Pam Jang Pam, as saying the attackers “were a combined band of ethnic Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist mercenaries.”

Two other unidentified Christians were hurt in the attack, including a pregnant woman, the report said.

Witness Emmanuel Sunday, a technical school student, said he was riding his motorbike near the scene of the attack when the gunmen stopped him to ask about his faith.

“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,” he told Morning Star News.

“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 added.

Nigeria has been the host of years of brutal sectarian violence and thousands have died as a result. Aggression toward Christians has been fueled by Boko Haram, or “Western Education is a Sin,” a militant group fighting for an Islamic state within the country, BosNewsLife reported.