By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) — Dozens of villagers have been killed in the latest attack on Christian communities in northwestern Nigeria by suspected Fulani Muslim militants, rights investigators have told BosNewsLife.
Among victims were reportedly five people who died when armed men of Fulani origin attacked Makyali village in the Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna state in recent weeks. One person was injured in the May 13 attack, added advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in a statement.
Those killed were named as Luka Paymaster, 80, Yaki Luka, 40, Francis Daniel, 37, Akilu Aruwa, 45 and Laraba Danmori, 70. The attack occurred hours after Fulani assailants had murdered a man and his wife in Katul village, according to CSW officials. Both towns are along the Kaduna-Kachia road in Kaduna state.
The attacks seem part of a broader campaign by Fulani extremists and other Muslim militants to grab land from Christians or persecute them for their faith. CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas told BosNewsLife that his group is “deeply perplexed” that attacks occur “in an area where security is already deployed.”
Elsewhere in the state on Tuesday, May 12, 53-year-old Bomboi Abinfada was killed, and one person was injured in an attack on Idanu-Doka village while another person was injured in an assault on the Ungwan Rana-Doka town, rights investigators said. The violence in Katul, Idanu-Doka, and Ungwan Rana-Doka villages came as victims of another armed attack on the Gona Rogo community were buried in a mass grave, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
MORE ATTACKS REPORTED
The violence followed an attack Monday, May 12, on the predominantly Baptist community in the area that killed at least seventeen people and injured six others, Christians said. Food stores were reportedly destroyed, and homes burnt during the attack.
Seven of the victims were minors, Christians said. Among the victims was the entire family of Jonathan Yakubu, 40, “who was hacked to death along with his wife, Sheba Yakubu, 32, and their children Patience, 13, Revelation, 6, and Rejoice, 4,” added CSW, which has contacts in the area.
In published remarks, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, which represents local villagers, said one of the survivors is a six-month-old baby. The infant was hit in the head by a bullet that killed his mother, the Union said.
These are no isolated incidents with CSW Nigeria documenting 11 attacks by Fulani militia across the region between the time a total lockdown came into effect on March 25, and the morning of May 12. The advocacy group claimed 38 people had been killed, and around 133 houses destroyed in the attacks launched within that timeframe.
NO ISOLATED INCIDENTS
The violence rocked areas where people are facing a government-imposed coronavirus related lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Christians in Nigeria’s neighboring Plateau state are experiencing similar organized Fulani Muslim attacks during the lockdown, CSW noted. “For example, on May 5, three armed assailants reportedly of Fulani origin broke into the home of Rev. Bayo James Famonure.”
The Christian, who is the headmaster of the local Messiah College and leader of the Calvary Mission and Agape Missions groups in Gana Ropp village, was reportedly shot in the forehead and leg. His wife Naomi was shot in the back, and their sons Adua’a and Victor were shot in the feet, CSW said. All were reportedly recovering well.
Two days later, Lami David, a 32-year-old-mother of four, was reportedly shot in her home in the predominantly Christian Nkietohu village in Plateau state. It happened while she had her 2-year-old baby wrapped on her back, Christians said. The first shots in the room were targeted at her mother-in-law, 60-year-old Elizabeth (Lisa) Nchu, who was resting, according to community leader Josiah Zongo.
Her mother-in-law was hit in the shoulder, and David was then shot in her chest and legs, Zongo told Morning Star News agency. Her husband, who was in his room with the other three children at the time of the attack, escaped, Zongo added. The family, now recovering of their ordeal, was sheltering at home due to a coronavirus curfew, Christians said.
CSW’s Thomas said his group is almost daily receiving reports “of horrific armed assaults on vulnerable Christian communities which appear to remain unaddressed.”
MORE SECURITY DEMANDS
He expressed concern about the “impunity with which perpetrators can launch these attacks.” Thomas called it “either a sign of an unwillingness to protect these communities on account of their religion or belief. Or a telling indictment of the government’s inability to fulfill its primary purpose of securing the lives and livelihoods of Nigerian citizens.”
His group has Nigeria’s government to improve security and prosecute attackers. “These attacks, which also occur in the south of the country, gravely threaten the unity and security of this multi-faith and multi-ethnic nation.”
The violence comes while Nigeria is already dealing with terrorist insurgencies, the collapsing oil price, and the fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
“If left unaddressed,” he warned, the attacks “could eventually spark a conflagration that will be extremely difficult to contain.” (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).