09/02/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Last week, ICC sent one of its Nigerian staffers to visit the site of an attack earlier this summer in Nigeria’s central state of Kaduna. Attacks have become an almost daily occurrence in the region. The attack, which took place on June 5 in an area called Kajuru some thirty miles southeast of Kaduna City, was unusual for its scale and complexity.
The attack began in a typical fashion, with militants on over 100 motorcycles converging in the Kajuru area. While many villagers fled, some fought back and even managed to surround the attackers, local leaders told ICC.
It was when the tide began turning in favor of the villagers that a helicopter appeared, according to locals, and began firing on the villagers. The helicopter even bombed the local church building. All told, 32 villagers were killed in the attack.
Last week, ICC sent a staffer to visit Kajuru and speak with witnesses. The use of a helicopter to attack villagers makes the June incident unique, and more needs to be discovered about the incident.
Unfortunately, ICC was unable to reach Kajuru due to an active gunfight in the area and was forced to turn back while on the road close by. He was, however, able to speak with locals about the incident and the aftermath of the attack.
“The bandits have blocked the road. They don’t want us to return to the village or worship on Sundays,” said a local from Kajuru. According to him, over 500 Christians have been kept from worshiping together since the attack.
The Kaduna State government has confirmed the killing of 32 people in the three villages of Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki, and Ungwan Maikori in the Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State. Since then, the community has continued to face threats.
“The militants do come and give notice before they attack,” said one Kajuru resident ICC spoke with. “In the last incident, they gave in a note to the church priests. Most of the places where the militant herdsmen attack is the villages around the main town. These villages include Mai ido, Barga, Kutura Rimi, to mention a few.”
The villagers, afraid for their lives, largely live in the nearby town of Kachia. Still, farming takes them back to the village because most of them do not have land in the main town, so they do not have any option but to go back to the village.
“The soldiers have ambushed the herdsmen in one of their attacks to steal cows from their fellow herdsmen close to the Nigerian Base Camp Kachia,” another resident told ICC. “To my greatest surprise, during one of the attacks earlier this year, the government sent soldiers to us in Kachia. But on reaching Kachia, they turned around and left. Only God knows the reason why. After that, so many other attacks took place, but there was no assistance from the government. No aid, no food, no shelter, no clothing. People around here have pity on the victims and help, but there is no government assistance.”
A clergyman of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) from a community where 36 people were killed and many displaced says Fulani militants with machetes and sticks attacked him on his farm and injured his head. He says the attacks are going around all the surrounding villages of Jama’a local government area of Southern Kaduna, where the community is mostly Christian. “Christians are the ones facing the attacks,” he says.
The clergyman said that the attacks are worsening, and more people in the villages are being attacked without any assistance from the government. His wife added that the militants destroyed their farm and that they did not have sufficient food.
An ICC staffer was visiting their community last year when 36 Christians were killed. Journalist Luka Biniyat wrote an article on the attack and was jailed by the government. The clergyman who was interviewed by ICC is under threat by the Fulani militants.
Speaking anonymously, one local expert said that “the government is not willing to help tackle the issue of security instability. All efforts to call for peace have been abortive and denied by the government.”
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