At least 22 people have been killed in a spate of attacks on remote communities located in Nigeria's southern Kaduna state. The assaults, perpetrated by Islamic Fulani militants, occurred between 10th and 12th July and were carried out despite a heavy security presence in the area and a 24-hour curfew which had been in place since the murder of a pastor's son on 10th June.
On 10 July, nine people were killed and several others injured during an attack on the Chibwob community in Gora Ward, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) in the Atyap Chiefdom. Most of the victims were women and children. The suspects also burnt down more than 20 homes, destroyed several motorcycles and a car, and stole 24 cows and other livestock. They also looted property and food stocks in the area.
Then, on 11 July, armed Fulani fighters attacked several settlements located close to Chibwob, including the Kigudu community on the boundary between Zangon Kataf and Kauru LGAs, where ten women, one infant and an elderly man were burned to death inside a house in which they had taken refuge. The next day, on 12 July, the herdsmen an attack on Ungwan Audu village in the Gora Ward of Zangon Kataf LGA, killing one person and looting the entire village before razing it to the ground with an arson attack.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 163 households, consisting of 1,013 people and including 11 pregnant women, were displaced during the weekend’s violence.
Christian communities have been under siege from Fulani fighters and other militant Islamic groups in recent years, with the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG-FoRB) suggesting in a recent report that a genocide against Christians may be unfolding across the country.
"Among all the injustices for the UK to help correct in the near future, the widespread and growing persecution of Christians should be top of the list," Jim Shannon MP, the chair of APPG-FoRB wrote in his foreword to the report. "These Christians, and other persecuted minorities, must be our priority in the aftermath of a pandemic that may devastate communities already threatened with extinction."
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to all who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in these appalling attacks. We are dismayed by the actions of the security forces, who reportedly attacked peaceful protestors and arrested farmers for violating the curfew, yet failed to prevent armed non-state actors from terrorising civilians for three consecutive days.
"The ongoing violence and loss of life in southern Kaduna is emblematic of an enduring failure or unwillingness on the part of both levels of government to fulfil the responsibility to protecting all citizens in an effective and unbiased manner. International pressure must be brought to bear on both the state and federal authorities to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected, that both the inciters and perpetrators of these attacks are brought to justice, and that survivors receive compensation and humanitarian assistance.
"CSW therefore urges the UN Human Rights Council to convene a special session on the relentless violence in central Nigeria, with a particular focus on the southern Kaduna area and Plateau State, and for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the 2019 preliminary report on Nigeria by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions forward with a view to ensuring accountability.”