JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Amid a groundswell of domestic and international condemnation of unchecked violence by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, 37 more Christians were killed in Kaduna state so far this month, sources said.
Following the slaughter of 33 Christians in Zangon Kataf County in early August, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kachia County on Monday (Aug. 17) killed four Christians and kidnapped their driver, Danlami Dariya, as their vehicle made its way from Katul village, area resident Zephaniah Bature said.
“Four of the Christians inside the car were killed instantly,” Bature told Morning Star News by text message. “The driver was kidnapped by the herdsmen, and among those killed are three men and an old woman.”
Muslim Fulani herdsmen also attacked Kachia County’s Bugai village on Sunday (Aug. 16), according to area resident Mamman Danbaba.
“There was yet another attack by Fulani herdsmen at about 8 p.m.” Danbaba said by text message. “Many lives were lost, and many Christians were injured. Houses and properties burned.”
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Fulani herdsmen have increasingly adopted ideology and methods similar to Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, and some come from outside Nigeria, This Day’s Akin Osuntokun wrote in an Aug. 14 column for the Nigerian news outlet.
“Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers,” Osuntokun wrote. “And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighboring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”
Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), reported that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 33 Christians in five villages of Zangon Kataf County on Aug. 5.
“The armed Fulani herdsmen stormed Apiashyim and Kibori villages. They lay siege to Apyaishyim, killing, looting and burning houses. In the wake of the cruelty, they left six Christians dead and 20 houses burnt,” Binniyat said in a press statement. “In nearby Kibori village, seven Christians were killed by the marauding Fulani herdsmen.”
They struck Atakmawei village as residents were sleeping late at night, killing 12 Christians and burning 10 houses, and in Apyiako village they also burned homes and killed three Christians, he said.
“At the same time, Magamiya village was also attacked, and five Christians were killed and seven houses burnt,” Binniyat said. “The herdsmen carried out the attacks between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. and left unchallenged.”
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.