Armed assailants on Sunday killed three women and a man in Nigeria’s Southern Kaduna, razing over 60 houses, locals say.
Dozens of AK-47 bearing men, at about 6:30pm, stormed Plateau bordering Ntiriku village of Kamuru Chiefdom, in Kauri Local Government Area, with “heavy shooting”, said the villagers.
“They split themselves into groups, moving from house to house, shooting, looting and burning houses,” said a retired Pastor of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Dauda Rogo.
Over 1500 panicked women and children scampering for safety ran into ambushes set by the attackers along exit routes, Rev. Rogo said.
Mrs. Titi Saje, 95, Mrs. Hannatu Joseph, 45, and Mrs. Awiki Adi, 42, were killed along escape paths while Mr. Sunday David, 61, died of exhaustion after escaping to a nearby village, it was learnt.
Securities were alerted before any casualties were recorded but they arrived 12hours later, it was gathered.
Mr. Joseph Maza, 75, whose “best friend” wife, Hannatu Joseph and daughter, Awiki Adi were killed told Journalists that the attack has taken everything from him and left him “empty” despite social restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“My wife…my daughter… I feel like my chest is on fire…I can’t even express it,” Mr. Maza stuttered in tears.
The attack is believed to have been carried out by herdsmen from surrounding Fulani communities.
One of the attackers identified as Alhaji Haruna, a herder and popular tea vendor in Rafin Bauna, a neighboring Fulani dominated village in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State was Monday found dead in the outskirts of the town with a sword in his hand, locals say.
He is thought to have been killed by a stray bullet from the attackers, whom villagers believe were his accomplices.
“They called his (deceased’s) mobile phone and asked us to take the corpse over to them in the surrounding mountains or they attack again,” said a local youth official.
A similar attack on 13th November 2016 followed a misunderstanding over land between a native farmer and a visiting herder, it was learnt.
“The herder pleaded to camp with his cattle in my farm for some weeks before farming commenced but when the agreed time for him to leave came, he attacked me when I went to cultivate the farm,” said the villager.
“We reported the matter to securities,” he said, “but they soon started holding strange meetings and evacuating their families and in November, they attacked us, killing 68 people and burning over 3000 houses,” the villager said.
Mr. Stephen Kusa whose brother was killed in the attack, leaving behind eight children and a wife said he saw “familiar faces” among the attackers.
“They were people we had cohabited with for years but they turned around to attack us,” he said.
The attacks targeting Christians, suggest “religious cleansing”, said a Local Government Official of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Bitrus Nga.
“We have Muslim neighbours who are farmers but each time they come, they kill only Christians. Sometimes they pass through surrounding Muslim communities but they don’t ever hurt them. Our people sometimes even run into the Muslim’s houses during attacks for safety.”
In June 2018, over 200 Christian villagers were saved from Muslim Fulani herdsmen attackers in Plateau State by an Imam.
83year-old Sheik Abubakar Abdullahi asked the fleeing villagers to run into his mosque when the herders attacked Gashish District of Barkin Ladi Local Government killing over 200 people.
None of the Muslim locals or the Christian refuge seekers was hurt in the attacks that lasted over a week.
Local and foreign media have however consistently reported the attacks as “clashes” between farmers and herders.