Date: December 23, 2022
Killings in southern Kaduna state continue unchecked.
Our Nigeria Correspondent
Sultan Bello Mosque in the city of Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Anasskoko, Creative Commons)
ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected herdsmen and other terrorists killed 46 people Sunday night to Wednesday (Dec. 18-21) in attacks in predominantly Christian areas of southern Kaduna state, sources said.
Attacks by Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists on Malagum and Abun (Broni Prono) villages in Kaura County Sunday through Tuesday (Dec. 18-20) left 38 people dead in the predominantly Christian communities, said Luka Biniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).
“It is with heavy heart and deep sense of loss that we announce the gruesome, mass murder of not less that 38 harmless, unarmed villagers,” Biniyat said in a press statement. “The killings, which lasted long, started around 11 p.m. Sunday night. Not only were these, poor innocent citizens killed, not less than 100 houses were razed, with some victims burned alive.”
Volunteers were still combing the surrounding wilderness in search of missing persons and corpses, he said.
Villagers had noticed herdsmen from outside the area coming from different directions on motorbikes to set up camp in the nearby wilderness some days prior, he said.
“Apparently, the security forces deployed there did nothing under this glaring potential threat to security,” he said. “Especially as this dastardly act is coming five days after armed herdsmen herded their cattle into a farm owned by Cletus Dunia, 45, in Kpak village, a sub-unit of Kagoro, in Kaura LGA, and shot him dead at close range before mutilating his corpse.”
The herdsmen also shot and killed Levi Zakaria, 19, as he was harvesting yams on a farm on the route taken by herdsmen, who also killed 16-year-old Ezra Sunday about two kilometers away, he said.
“The same herdsmen caused the death of Gaje Habila, 31, when he fell and died of exhaustion while escaping the killer herdsmen, leaving behind a widow and a 6-month-old baby,” Biniyat said.
In southern Kaduna state’s Zangon Kataf County on Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 20-21), armed herdsmen invaded homes in predominantly Christian Kamuru village, Ikulu Ward, and killed four persons, he said.
“This is to say that 46 persons were killed in unprovoked attacks in southern Kaduna in the past five days,” he said.
The slaughters follow attacks that have displaced thousands of people from their ancestral homes since 2019, he said.
“Let it be put on record that in the hundreds of attacks that have put many parts of southern Kaduna into ruins and killed thousands since 2014, we have not seen anyone arrested and brought to book over these heinous crimes against humanity,” Biniyat said. “Instead, it is southern Kaduna traditional leaders, clergy and human right activists that do get arrested and put in prison over trumped-up allegations of ‘incitement.’”
Local Council official Mathias Simon confirmed that four Christians were killed in Zangon Kataf County.
“Aside from the four Christians killed, four others also were injured during the attacks by the herdsmen and terrorists,” Simon told Morning Star News in a text message, adding that area Christians have no way of stemming the attacks “but must remain steadfast in prayers and be watchful in order to keep our communities safe.”
Bawa Emmanuel, a youth leader in Kaura County, also confirmed the slaughters.
“Attacks on Kaura LGA have been consistent and multi-dimensional with the efforts of the security operatives and government not seen or felt,” Emmanuel told Morning Star News in a text message.
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year, according to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report. The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the WWL report.
Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked, with 470 cases, according to the report.
In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.