By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Muslim Fulani herdsmen have reportedly killed dozens of Christians in central Nigeria in recent weeks amid ongoing anti-Christian violence in the volatile African nation.
Local Christians said Thursday at least 12 Christians died in late April attacks in Nasarawa state targeting Ajimaka in Doma County and 13 other villages.
The April 24-29 violence against Christian farmers and their families also displaced tens of thousands of people, said Christian leaders in published remarks.
The Christian ‘Morning Star News’ service quoted a survivor of the attack on Ajikama village, Terlumun Tsekaa, saying that the herdsmen arrived at about 2 a.m. on April 24.
Tsekaa said the attackers came “with guns and machetes” and killed his wife, seven months pregnant and a 3-year-old child.
“There were more than 30 of these herdsmen who attacked us, and they were shouting ‘Allah akbar [Allah is greater]’ as they shot at us and burned our houses,” Tsekaa told Morning Star News. “They set fire on all houses in the village. They also killed a whole family of five members.”
In Doma County, the herdsmen also attacked Dooshima, Antsa, Dooka, Angwan Yara, Ikyayior, Targema, Tse Tor, Chia, Umurayi, Dooga, Gindan Rail, and Ankoma villages, Christians said.
Additionally, in Keana County, they reportedly attacked Ategher, Avewua, Ugbele Aondokaa, Ikper, Gborgyo, and Uluwa Kwananke villages, Zayol stressed. “They burned down houses and killed indiscriminately anyone they sighted,” added area leader Barnabas Zayol in a statement. “Those killed during the attacks include children and pregnant women.”
Victims were reportedly members of Universal Reformed Christian Church (NKST in Nigeria), Roman Catholic, Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC), and Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) churches.
The dead were named Tsekaa Chiatyo, Kwaghdoo Tsekaa, Sewuese Tsekaa, Bobo Chiatyo, Aondosee Fidelis, Aboy, Igba Aduku, Iwueseter, Aseer, Kasehumba, William Katu and Aondowase Agbu.
Police confirmed the attacks and said personnel was sent to the area where they found nine corpses so far.
Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule promised a thorough investigation into attacks that do “not spare women and children.” He said the violence “bears the trademark of devilish elements who are bent on truncating the relative peace in the state.”
Separately in neighboring Plateau state on April 25, Fulani herdsmen killed one Christian Danlami Musa, 21, and wounded another in Miango, Bassa County, an area resident said.
Friday Musa, 19, his brother, was reportedly injured during the attack at about 7 p.m., promoting a local Christian to say: “Please keep praying for God’s intervention on our behalf.”
On the same day in Bokkos County, herdsmen killed Christian community leader Yakubu Dadel in Jwanshak village in an attack on a funeral service at about 8:30 p.m.; his son told media.
Also, in Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen attacked Daffo village on April 20, killing Christian resident Iliya Mutong, villagers said.
“Iliya Mutong was cut with machetes until he died at about 8 p.m.,” Kyanan Mizhim said in a text message to Morning Star News. “He was sitting in front of his house when a group of Fulani herdsmen attacked him.”
Earlier reports emerged that in Jos South County on April 9, Fulani herdsmen were linked to the killing of eight Christian miners at Shawalan mining site, near Kuru village.
Emmanuel Jang, a Jos South council official, told media their bodies were retrieved from the site, and a funeral was held for them. “They were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations,” Jang was quoted as saying in a text message to Morning Star News.
On March 13 in Barkin Ladi County, high school student David James, 18, was killed by Fulani herdsmen in Dorowa Babuje village, his father said.
Solomon James, 68, explained in a text message that his son was killed in their home shortly before 8 p.m, Christians said.
Community leader John Choji reportedly confirmed the killing of James. “Our community has been under siege of armed Fulani herdsmen for several years now,” Choji said.
These were no isolated incidents: In the Dutse area of Miango on Feb. 1, herdsmen killed twelve Christian farmers as they worked their fields, according to Edward Egbuka, police said.
The government has come under pressure to prevent Africa's most populous country from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines.
Thousands of people have died over the past few years in attacks led by Islamists in especially the northeast.
Nigeria's insecurity has added to its economic woes, hindering foreign investment. Separatist aspirations have been growing while the imposition of Islamic law in several northern states has underscored divisions and caused thousands of Christians to flee.