Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed at least 12 Christians in southern Kaduna state on Nov. 23-25 in what Christian leaders call a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing.
The killings took place in four communities around GidanWaya town, near Kafanchan in Jema’a Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria: Pasakori, Mile One, Hayin Gaza and Sakiyo villages.
Area resident Joshua Aku told Morning Star News in GidanWaya that the attacks began in Pasakori on Wednesday evening (Nov. 23). Herdsmen killed the Pasakori village head, AyubaGwafan, in an armed assault that began at about 5 p.m. and lasted an hour, he said.
The heavily armed herdsmen then killed James Adamu of Hayin Gaza village, a Christian identified only as Gayus of Sakiyo village, an unnamed Christian, and three other Christians who were on their way to Kagoro while on the GidanWaya-Kagoro highway, Aku said.
The herdsmen returned on Friday to attack Mile One village, on the outskirts of GidanWaya, and started killing villagers and destroying their houses. District head Daniel Akai was killed along with La’azarus Yakubu, Joel Tanko, Fine Gambo and Jolly Dego, the latter from southern Nigeria but resident in Mile One village, Aku said.
Akai was a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in GidanWaya.
In last week’s assaults around GidanWaya, the arrival of a military helicopter before and after the attacks on each day led many residents to speculate that renegade elements in the Nigerian military were aiding the herdsmen, he added.
“Most residents of GidanWaya believe the herdsmen were brought to the area in a military helicopter and were ferried away soon after perpetuating the atrocities on the Christian communities,” said Aku, an ECWA member who was formerly sole administrator of Godogodo Development Area in Jema’a LGA.
Morning Star News was unable to independently confirm the reasons for the presence of the helicopter.
At a press conference on Nov. 16, the Rev. ZachariahGado of the ECWA decried “a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”
About 120 homes were looted and destroyed and six church buildings burned down in the Nov. 13 attack on Kaura LGA, Gado said, asserting that ethno-religious cleansing may have intensified after Kaduna officials announced plans to allocate 20,000 hectares of land in southern Kaduna for grazing reserves, beyond that which the herdsmen have already seized and illegally occupied.
“Since the latest onslaught on southern Kaduna began [in May], at least 138 people have been killed, most of them women and children, and at least 1,300 homes and church buildings have been torched,” he said.