At least 22 Christians were killed and more than 2,000 displaced during three days of attacks by Fulani militants on villages in the predominantly-Christian Gora ward of Kaduna state, Nigeria, from 10 to 12 July.
The onslaught escalated in multiple attacks despite the presence of increased security personnel drafted in to enforce a 24-hour curfew imposed following previous attacks in the area.
The first of the murderous raids began in the early hours of Friday 10 July, when the militants invaded the Chibob farming community, killing nine villagers, mostly women and children. Seven were injured and 20 houses burned before the militants made off with animals and food stocks.
Neighbouring Kigudu village was attacked the following day, when ten women, a baby and an elderly man were burnt to death in a house where they had taken refuge. Another seven villagers were injured and four houses burnt out.
On Sunday 12 July, the entire village of Anguwan Audu was razed when Fulani militants attacked, killing one person and injuring three others.
The attacks were described as “barbaric” by the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, which estimates that around 2,000 people fled the area as a result, taking refuge in IDP (internally displaced people) camps. “Over 3,000 are currently in those camps, creating a dire need for support,” said a union spokesman.
Widowed Christian, Bilkisu James, is receiving hospital treatment after being shot during the attack on Chibob, in which seven people in her household, including two of her children, died.
“The Fulani came in and were shooting. They killed two of my children,” said Bilkisu, as she described her appalling ordeal to Barnabas. The militant hacked another five of Bilkisu’s relatives to death with machetes including a mother and her baby daughter and a mother and her two sons.
“I heard them light the match and set the house on fire. We were lucky. It was more of smoke, which I was able to survive,” she continued.
“Before I was shot, I saw the Fulani man who is my neighbour, he even identified me. I surrendered to him on my knees,” Bilkisu explained. Her assailants then shot at her chest and back simultaneously and she fell to the floor. “As I lay there, I heard my daughter say she is dying,” she said.
Fulani attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt have increased during the Covid-19 lockdown as extremists exploited the facts that the authorities diverted security resources to combatting the virus and that villagers, forced to stay at home, became sitting targets. In May, more than 20 Christians were killed in four days of Fulani militant attacks in the Kajuru Local Government Area, Kaduna State.
From Barnabas Fund contacts