March 16, 2014 (Morning Star News) – Muslim herdsmen armed with guns and machetes on Friday night (March 14) launched attacks on three villages in Kaduna state, killing more than 100 Christians and destroying homes, sources said.
Scores of the ethnic Fulani assailants simultaneously attacked the Christian villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwar Gata and Chenshyi in the Kaura Local Government Area for about four hours, sources said. The Rev. Yakubu Gandu Nkut, chairman of the Zankan area chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told Morning Star News that a pastor’s wife and her three children were among the dead.
“The unfortunate attack on our communities has led to killing of more than 100 Christians,” Nkut said. “The wife of one of our pastors, Mrs. Jummai Likita Riku, and her three children, from the ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] church, Ugwar Sankwai, were killed in the attack.”
ECWA and Anglican church buildings were burned down by the herdsmen in Ugwar Sankwai, Nkut said.
Daniel Anyip, vice chairman of the Kaura Local Government Council, confirmed the attacks and the death toll, telling reporters women and children were burned to death in homes the assailants set ablaze.
“There is no justification for this inhuman act,” Anyip said.
In Manchok, where several Christians have taken refuge, Nuhu Moses of Chenshyi village told reporters that the Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed about 50 Christians.
“The cattlemen who attacked my village were more than 40 – they were armed with guns and other weapons,” Moses told Morning Star News. “As I talk to you, there is no single house that has not been destroyed as the attackers set fire on our houses. As we made efforts to escape from being killed, our attackers shot at every one they saw. It was a miracle that I escaped alive.”
The Nigeria Police Force in Kaduna corroborated the attacks, saying more policemen had been deployed to the area to restore order; the first security personnel reportedly arrived at 4 a.m., about an hour after the attacks ended. Aminu Lawan, deputy superintendent of police, told Morning Star News by phone that police have begun investigating.
On Jan. 30, a band of armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked the Christian village of Ungwar Kajit in the Manyi Akuru area of Kaduna, near Manchok, killing a family of seven and a man nearby, and injuring dozens of others.
Fulani herdsmen have long attacked settled Christian farmers in Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba and Adamawa states, but in the past year analysts have begun to see some ties between the assailants and Islamic extremist groups keen to exploit longstanding ethnic, property and religious conflicts.
Kaduna Gov. Mukhtar Yero described the March 14-15 attacks as “ungodly and barbaric.” He promised to order an investigation.
“This ugly situation is unacceptable, and we will step up efforts to improve surveillance and curtail future occurrence,” he said in a press statement. “We pray that God would expose the people that are causing this problem. We pray that God would touch their hearts to stop such dastardly acts or destroy their evil machinations.”
The Rt. Rev. George Dodo, chairman of the CAN in Kaduna state, called on the Nigerian government to put an end to systematic persecution of Christians in the state.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent. Those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.