Nigerian Fulani attack on Christian village leaves 20 dead – 9 of them children
Nigerian Fulani herdsmen have murdered 20 Christians, 19 of them from the same Baptist church and one from a Methodist church.
The attack took place during the night of September 7-8, according to sources in the village of Ancha in Plateau State.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), one entire family was killed in the attack. Five others were injured and are being treated in hospital.
The pastor of Salama Baptist Church told ICC: 'My heart is terribly heavy. I haven't been able to sleep.'
Rev Nanchwat Laven said the militia came into the village at around midnight. He said relations between the two communities had been good. 'Of course we have had issues from time to time with the herdsmen letting their cattle graze into our farms and destroy our crops,' he said. 'It would appear the Fulanis [launched this] attack because they had...some provocative attitude [about] their cattle [grazing] on our farms.'
Speaking on a local television news channel after the attack, the Plateau State Police Commissioner confirmed that the attack was perpetrated by Fulani militants and said no arrests had been made yet. He said it was in reprisal for the killing of a Fulani boy. However, the Fulani boy in question was killed in the village of Hukkie, approximately 15 kilometers away from Ancha.
Salama Baptist's church secretary John Bulus told Morning Star News: 'The village where they claim one of them was killed over a year ago is not part of our village, and we have never had any misunderstanding with them in the past.'
He said nine of those killed were children, ranging in age from three months to 17 years old.
He said he had narrowly escaped death himself: 'One of them ran after me into the house, and he stood by the door to my room without entering the room or shooting, and after a few minutes he went out to join his colleagues outside.
'And just as I was thinking about what to do, I heard sporadic gun shots all over the village. They were shooting everywhere in the village and this lasted for about 25 minutes.'
The attack is the latest in a series committed by Muslim Fulanis against Christians. In part it reflects pressure on the Christian farmers who live in Nigeria's central belt as climate change expands the desert region and drives the Fulani herdsmen south, leading to clashes as animals graze on crops. However, the attacks are also driven by radical Islamists who subscribe to a jihadi ideology and want to kill or drive out Christians.
ICC's regional manager, Nathan Johnson, said: 'The Nigerian government needs to hold the Fulani militants accountable for their actions. Allowing them to commit these atrocities with impunity is putting many Nigerian lives at risk and shows that they do not truly value all of their citizens. We hope that the government can take effective action to demilitarise and stabilise the Fulani militants and stop the senseless killing of so many Christian farmers.'