Nigerian Christians murdered in Fulani attacks

At least 27 people have died following recent attacks by Fulani militants on mainly Christian communities in northeast Nigeria, according to World Watch Monitor.

One of them was a pastor, and many of them drowned as they attempted to escape by crossing a river.

The attacks took place between September 13 and 16, in the same area where 3,000 homes were destroyed in December 2017.

A local pastor who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons told World Watch Monitor that 27 people had been buried following the latest attacks, which targeted communities along the Benue River. He said that on hearing sounds of guns, many villagers fled into the bush or drowned attempting to escape via the river. Ten people are still missing.

Fulani militants burned villages and murdered their inhabitants.World Watch Monitor

'Nobody knows the whereabouts of these people missing. Since their dead bodies are not found, it is too early to declare them dead. We will give them the benefit of doubt; maybe some of them may return home to their families,' he said.

Rev Gerison Ezekiel Killa, 43, of the Boiki Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, was one of those who drowned. He is survived by his wife and six children.

More than 45 others were injured. The assailants also looted and burned down many homes, and stole cattle.

Rahab Solomon, a survivor from Bolki village, said the attackers stormed their community at about 3 pm and began shooting indiscriminately.

'We couldn't go back home because we were told that our house was burnt. So we came to stay in this camp,' she said.

'The next day [September 14] we called my husband's brother and he told us that the Fulani chased our people and killed so many of them. Those who tried to run through the river were shot and many who tried to escape through the river, but could not swim, died as well; those who could swim were able to survive. We heard that over 25 bodies were recovered from the river. The exact number of people who died in the attack is yet to be known as the place is still under attack.

'We were told that the Fulani militants burnt down all our houses, and some women and children who hid in the farms were abducted by the Fulani. We no longer have a place to call home. Right now we are helpless.'

Another survivor, Jidauna Igiya, the head of Gon village, said they had heard gunshots at around 4 pm on Sunday September 16. 'Everybody in the village sought cover and began to run for safety, as the Fulani were shooting and burning houses.

'The Fulani burnt all our houses. No house is standing right now and we cannot go back to our villages.'

He said they had taken the cattle, looted and burnt everything they could not take away.

'Twenty-six people were killed in our village, Gon, while two others were wounded,' he said. 'During the attack, we tried to call security forces but none came to our rescue. We managed to put our families, children, women and old people through the bush and that is how we were able to be saved.'

He said most of those who had tried to escape across the river had drowned.

The state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Stephen Mamza, blamed government inaction and said innocent Christians were being 'killed by these so-called herdsmen on a daily basis, without security forces responding appropriately to stop them from hurting Christians'.