Nigeria: 39 dead in latest Fulani attack as churches plan nationwide protest

At least 39 people have died in yet another attack by Fulani herdsman on Christians in Nigeria's Middle Belt.

More than 160 homes were set on fire and the death toll could rise following the attack in Benue state on Tuesday night. Residents reported the Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, as being armed with AK-47 guns.

Churches have suffered attacks from both Boko Haram and Fulani militants in recent years.Reuters

'The herdsmen destroyed more than 60 houses in our village, and three members of my community were also killed during the attack,' Alice Terwase told Morning Star News. 'At Tse-Ali village, more than 70 houses were set ablaze and 21 Christians killed. All affected victims are members of NKST [Universal Reformed Christian Church, or Nongu u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar] church, and the Roman Catholic Church in the affected communities.'

Christians are planning a nationwide protest on Sunday as they say President Buhari's government are not doing enough to protect them. The Evangelical Church Winning All, one of the largest denominations in Nigeria, is holding three days of prayer and fasting in response to the attacks and also calling for the release of Leah Sharibu, a schoolgirl being held by Boko Haram because she won't renounce her Christian faith.

Rev Supo Ayokunle, president of Christian Association Nigeria, urged all Christians in Nigeria to take part in the protests on Sunday, calling for the end of 'killings and bloodshed in the country'.

'Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about sustained killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria,' he said, adding the government perform its constitutional responsibility of protecting citizens.

'No excuse should be given for this wicked act again, and perpetrators must be brought to book now,' he said.

'The association also calls on the heads of the security agencies to wake up to their constitutional role of protecting lives and property across the federation while preventing Nigeria from descending into chaos and a lawless country,' he added.

Christians make up about 51 per cent of Nigeria's population and live primarily in the south, while Muslims living mainly in the north and middle belt account for 45 per cent.