At least 80 people were killed and more than 60 abducted when gunmen riding motorcycles attacked predominantly Christian villages in southern Plateau State, Nigeria on Sunday 10 April.
Over 115 homes were razed in the raids on Kukawa, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Gyambawu, Dungur, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji and Dadin Kowa villages.
“Many motorcycles, each one carrying three bandits, stormed the communities,” said a resident. “This incident happened when people were clearing their farms in preparation for raining season.”
Another survivor added, “We are terrified and traumatised. It took the grace of God for some of us [to] be alive as we took to our heels and took cover in bushes.”
Hundreds of villagers fled their burning communities. A mother and her children ran through the night for five hours to reach safety in neighbouring Bauchi State. “It is God’s miracle that they escaped the massacre and didn’t get killed by any wild animal,” a contact told Barnabas.
The attacks happened a week after suspected Fulani militants killed twelve people celebrating a cultural festival in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Our contact said that, prior to the latest assaults on 10 April, there had been friction with militant Islamist Fulanis who had been attacking and taking over Christian communities.
“The irony here is that while the Fulani, by their nomadic lifestyle, are expected to keep moving on their migratory routes seeking pasture, it will seem that they have decided to take over Christian farming communities and settle in them,” our contact explained.
“The government has equally turned a blind eye to these atrocities.”
He said it was clear from devastating attacks in Plateau and neighbouring Kaduna State that Christians and their villages are the target for “slow extermination”.
The government, he said, had over many years given excuses and several changes of narrative to “deflect, deny and defend its complicity” in the killings of women and children in predominantly Christian villages in central Nigeria.
He asked for prayers for Christian families whose loved ones are killed or kidnapped. “Many [Christians] are being subjected to all sorts of abuses,” he added, “especially rape by the Islamist Fulani militias who use it as a weapon.”
Our contact’s words echo the findings of a recent report by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). It blamed the escalation of violence in Nigeria on the growth of Islamist extremism across the Sahel.
From Barnabas Fund contacts and other sources