Several hundred Christians killed, villages decimated as merciless wave of militant Fulani attacks sweeps northern Nigeria

20 August 2019

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Hundreds of Christians lost their lives in the first half of 2019 alone as a wave of attacks by heavily-armed, mainly Muslim, Fulani militants continued to gather momentum in an agenda of “religious cleansing” that is aiding Boko Haram’s attempts to establish an Islamist caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria.

Barnabas Fund contacts described the situation as “horrifying” for Christian communities in a recent report that outlined a spate of murderous attacks across at least six regions in 2019, costing several hundred lives, as well as destroying homes and decimating communities. The carnage has gone largely unchallenged by the Nigerian Federal Government.

Swathes of Christian-owned farmland have also been seized by Fulani militants this year. A controversial government plan called “Ruga” that seeks to establish new Fulani settlements in the region was recently suspended due to a public outcry, according to Barnabas contacts.

Houses in Karamai, Kaduna State, that were burnt out in a Fulani attack in February, when 300 gunmen engulfed the village chanting "Allahu Akbar!"

The UN announced in July that the upsurge of violent attacks on Christians taking place across sub-Saharan Africa is now at crisis level, with an estimated 4.2 million displaced people representing an “unprecedented” humanitarian emergency.

Kaduna State worst hit in sequence of callous attacks

Kaduna has been the worst-hit state, with nearly 300 people killed when heavily-armed Fulani militia raided Karamai village , and at least six other predominantly Christian villages across the region, between February and April.

In some of the most callous attacks witnessed in recent years, brutal rapes and maiming with machetes were reported. Over 300 homes were destroyed in the raids and many acres of farmland ravaged and property looted across the state. In Dogon Noma village, eyewitness accounts described gunmen “shooting and hacking down anything that moved”.

In Kajura Local Government Area, also in Kaduna State, the bodies of about 73 women, some pregnant, and 101 children ranging from babies on their mothers’ backs up to ten-year-olds, were interred in a mass grave.

Reports of attacks killing 66 Fulanis were circulated in televised reports from Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai during the presidential elections in February. These later proved to be false, but are thought to have aggravated hostility towards Christians in the state.

Fulani militants murder 61 in Benue and Plateau States

On 4 March, Fulani militia attacked three villages in Benue State killing 23. A fourth attack on Sendegh village, Kwande Local Government Area, on 7 April, is reported to have killed two more Christians and injured several others.

Traumatised survivors of Fulani militant violence gather in a church in Plateau State
Traumatised survivors of Fulani militant violence gather in a church in Plateau State

In Plateau State, there were fresh attacks in predominantly Christian areas of Jos, the state capital, on 23 May that left at least 33 Christians dead.

Over 300 armed Fulani militants “shot indiscriminately” as they swooped on three mainly Christian villages on 17 June in the Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State. Three died in the raids, including a soldier, and many were injured. At least 50 homes and a government clinic were razed by the mob.

Tragic death of boys and girls marching in Easter parade “not accidental”

Barnabas contacts told us of a tragic incident involving around 13 Christian youths who were killed, some instantly, during an annual Easter Sunday evening parade in Gombe city, Gombe State. A civil defence forces vehicle rammed into the group from behind as they took part in a Boys' Brigade procession. The contact said that the episode was “not accidental” and came at a time of heightened animosity towards Christians.

On Sunday 14 April, violence flared in the central state of Nasarawa when an estimated 18 Christians were killed and several injured in Fulani militia attacks on Nidam, Mente and Numa Kochu villages, all in the Akwanga Local Government Area.

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