168 killed in attacks on Christian villages in Nigeria

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Another wave of attacks on Christian villages in Nigeria has left at least 168 people dead, including many children, Release International has said. 

The attacks are reported to have been carried out by Fulani militants in the Mangu region of central Nigeria. 

Some 30 villages were caught up in the violence that began on 16 May. 

An eight-month-old baby survived being shot twice but has lost both her parents and five siblings in the attack on Nbun Ward last month. 

A survivor from Jwakom village, who cannot be named for security reasons, described scenes of panic. 

"We saw people running and started to hear consistent gunshots. Our men told us to go. We all fled. We barely survived," they said. 

A local doctor said his small hospital had been inundated with victims, some of whom did not survive their injuries.

"Simple things like gloves, sutures, antibiotics, items for those with machete wounds – we have exhausted them all," they said. 

One woman said she had lost her oldest child, grandmother and another girl living with her. 

"My 5-year-old has been seriously wounded, too. He's in great pain," she said. 

She said the attackers were militant Fulani herders.

"They are our neighbours," she said. "Our house is just besides theirs. They called my son by name."

Release CEO Paul Robinson said: "This violence is often simplistically characterised in the media as clashes between herders and farmers.

"This ignores the religious dimension behind many of the Fulani attacks, which together have the characteristic of an Islamist jihad.

"Predominantly Christian villages have been overrun, church buildings destroyed, and pastors targeted for assassination.

"Villages are being burnt out of their homes in what appears to be a systematic campaign of religious and ethnic cleansing."

The violence in Nigeria is the focus of Release International's Out of these ashes campaign and an upcoming gathering in Eastbourne on 29 June that will also be livestreamed.