Christians in northern Nigeria have appealed for prayers after religiously linked violence claimed the lives of 80 people in the Kaduna state. Clashes between Fulani Muslims and Christians during the week leading up to the Easter holiday has also displaced over 4,500 people. Tensions between these groups has elcalated in recent years and has often resulted in violence. Will northern Nigeria ever find peace?
4/3/2013 Nigeria (BosNewsLife) – Nigerian Christians appealed for prayers Tuesday, April 2, after Easter season violence in troubled central Nigeria left as many as 80 people dead and displaced some 4,500 others.
At least 19 people were killed since Easter Sunday when gunmen believed to be nomadic Muslim cattle herders attacked the mostly Christian Atakar group in Kaura district, a remote area of Kaduna state, officials said.
Witnesses said the attacks on three communities, including the Mafang and Zilang villages, killed many women and children. Kaduna police spokesman Aminu Lawan told reporters his forces were still investigating.
Ataka Christians live near Plateau state where authorities claimed fighting between cattle herders, who are mainly Fulani Muslims, and Christian villages killed nearly 60 people in recent days.
The area is on the uneasy dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south.
Christians said that following Sunday’s violence, thousands of villagers fled to the nearby hills.
Local government official Kumai Badu said in published remarks that some 4,500 people were displaced and two camps had been set up to house them.
Some who returned later to assess the extent of the damage were also murdered, according to rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). Assailants also razed several homes, Christians said.
Many of those displaced by the destruction are reported to be staying in the local Amisi Primary School, as well as in nearby Fadan Attakar and Mifi villages.
“We request prayers for, and extend our condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives during the tragic events of last week,” said Reverend Yunusa Nmadu, the chief executive officer of CSW-Nigeria.
“We also call on the relevant state governments to provide urgent assistance to the injured and displaced,” Nmadu added.
The latest violence came after at least 36 people died and dozens of houses were burned in neighboring Plateau state when ethnic Fulani Muslims raided Christian villages in the week leading to Easter.
The military said the latest casualties were in addition to at least 23 people killed in attacks in the volatile region on March 20 and 21.
In of the latest incidents in Plateau State, nine people were killed and three injured Thursday, March 28, when gunmen believed to be Fulanis attacked the village of Ratas in Barkin Ladi area, police and government officials said.
Emmanuel Lohman, a government official in Barkin Ladi, said that the assailants, armed with assault rifles, struck opened fire in the night while many villagers were sleeping.
Christian villagers, who farm the fertile soils of Plateau, blamed nomadic “Hausa-Fulani cattle herdsmen” for the attack.
Muhammadu Nura, the state secretary of a cattle breeders association, reportedly said that Hausa-Fulani people had been killed in “reprisals”, but denied herders were involved the attacks.
An attack and subsequent shootout in the Bokkos area killed 25 people on Wednesday, March 27, by suspected Fulanis news reports said. Two police officers were wounded by gunfire.
Violence in the Riyom district left at least two police officers dead when their patrol was ambushed March 25 after at least 30 houses were burnt in the area on March 23, police said.
The attacks have triggered fears of a wider conflict in an area where thousands have been killed or displaced in recent years in a cycle of attacks and reprisals.
Local Christians, who are mainly farmers, have expressed concerns that Fulani Muslim herdsmen take over land to store arms and prepare further attacks in the region.