Several Christians have been killed this month by armed Fulani radicals who carried out attacks in the Plateau and Benue states of Nigeria as thousands have died in the escalating violence in the West African country’s Middle Belt in recent years.
Six children and a pregnant woman were among nine people that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed in north-central Nigeria Tuesday night (April 14), Morning Star News reports.
About a dozen herdsmen armed with rifles and machetes raided Hura-Maiyanga village, in the Miango area of Kwall District in Plateau state’s Bassa County, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” sources said.
“They were armed with machetes and AK-47 rifles as they attacked us,” Hanatu John, a woman who survived the attack, told Morning Star News. “They attacked our village at about 8 p.m., and they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they shot into our houses.”
The assailants were speaking Fulfulde, the Fulani language, as they shot into homes, she said.
“Most families had already retired into houses to sleep when these Fulani gunmen came into the village and were shooting into houses,” John told Morning Star News in Miango town, where she took refuge. “As the herdsmen shot at us, we all ran out from our houses into the surrounding bushes. Some of the herdsmen chased after us and shot at us, while others were burning down our houses.”
Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), confirmed the attack.
“Hura hamlet of Maiyanga village in Kwall District, Miango Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau state was invaded last night on April 14th by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, who surrounded the entire area and unleashed mayhem on the unsuspecting natives,” Mwantiri told Morning Star News by text message. “As a result, nine persons were gruesomely killed and two injured while 33 houses were completely torched by fire. Most of the persons killed were children.”
He identified those killed as Angela Daniel, 3; David Yakubu, 15; Luka Magwa, 5; Ishaya Yakubu, 7; Aba Ibrahim, 6; Stephen Ngwe, 7; the pregnant Talatu Daniel, 32, and her unborn child; Sunday Biri, 45; and Izhe Nkama, 43.
Those killed were buried in two separate mass graves, he said. Mwantiri identified the two people wounded as Esther James, 55, and 51-year-old Lami Ibrahim.
“Additionally, over 250 persons, mostly women and children, have been displaced with no means of livelihood,” Mwantiri said.
Miango resident Grace Gye sent a message to the Plateau state government on Wednesday (April 15) decrying the Fulani terrorist onslaught on area Christians and calling on state and federal governments “to protect the people and their property.” She questioned why Fulani herdsmen were moving about freely in spite of a lockdown in the face of the novel coronavirus.
The Rev. Ronku Aka, a former Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor and now community leader of the Irigwe ethnic group, lamented incessant attacks on predominantly Christian communities.
“So many of my people have been killed over the years, including the attack of last night,” he told Morning Star News on Wednesday (April 15). “In spite of promises from the government to my people, the herdsmen have continuously been attacking our communities.”
Human rights organisations monitoring the ongoing violence taking place against Christians in Nigeria are now raising concerns of an imminent genocide.
More than 50 believers have been killed in the month of March and over a dozen more during the first week of April. Since the beginning of 2020, at least 410 Christians have been murdered. Most of the violence was perpetrated by jihadist Fulani militants.
Nigeria is ranked as the 12th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.