Fulani herdsmen have killed at least 32 people in an attack on a Christian area of north-central Nigeria on Feb. 26, sources said.
The early morning assault on villages in and around Maro, in Kajuru County of Kaduna state, came after a Feb. 10 herdsmen attack on Angwan Barde, in the same county that killed 10 Catholic Christians along with an unborn child.
In the attack in Maro, the Fulani herdsmen also damaged church buildings and property, and the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) reported that many of its missionaries working among the area Adara (known as Kadara by the Hausa) and Katari ethnic groups have been displaced.
A boarding school for the missionaries' children in Kufana town has been closed, said the Rev. Bakari Ibrahim, director of the ECWA's Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS).
"Please pray for peace in Kaduna state—hundreds have been displaced and hundreds killed by the Fulani jihadists," he told Morning Star News in a text message. "We evacuated about hundred EMS kids from Kufana for safety. Many of our missionaries working among the Kadara tribe and some in Katari areas have been displaced. Please keep praying for our nation."
A women's fellowship leader of the ECWA congregation in Maro who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that women were meeting at the church building when the herdsmen invaded.
"We ran out of the church building as the shooting was going on," she said on Tuesday (Feb. 26). "Many have been killed, and I have not seen my family members since morning. I have escaped out of the area."
Other messages to Morning Star News reflected similar alarm. "The armed herdsmen are shooting anyone they see and are setting fire on houses and church buildings," one Christian who requested anonymity said by phone.
Another survivor wrote in a text message, "There is an outbreak of violent attacks ongoing at Maro in Kajuru LG [Local Government Area] of Kaduna state. The people are in serious distress right now."
Area resident Mordecai Funom Ibrahim wrote in a text message that about 400 armed Fulanis attacked villages around Maro at about 6 a.m. Another resident pleaded, "Can the governor of Kaduna state send security personnel to Karamai in Maro of Kajuru Local Government Area, there's an ongoing attack by Fulani gunmen on Christians."
Blogger Mercy Musa Swanta of Kaduna state wrote on Facebook that local residents offered some defense.
"The villagers stood against the Fulani who came fully clothed in military uniform," she wrote. "But they had to withdraw due to high number and superior firepower of the Fulani. Mobile policemen came but also retreated, one operation Yaki [police] vehicle burnt. Military now engaging the Fulani. Battle still going on. Casualties unknown but could be high."
At least 32 bodies had reportedly been buried at this writing, including that of a policeman, with many Christian residents still unaccounted for.
A spokesman for the governor said the government was saddened by the attack and that security agencies were working to contain the aggression in Kajuru and neighboring Kachia County.
Attack in Angwan Barde
The Feb. 10 Muslim Fulani herdsmen attack on Angwan Barde that killed 11 people wounded five others, residents said.
Survivors told Morning Star News that armed herdsmen in large numbers surrounded the village at about 11 p.m. that Sunday night. Area resident Ja'afaru Samaila, 21, said by phone that the herdsmen killed five members of his family.
"We heard gun shots, and this forced me and my family to remain in our bedrooms as it was difficult for us to run out of the house," he told Morning Star News. "The Fulani gunmen surrounded our house and were shooting and shouting, 'Allahu akbar [God is greater].' They killed my father, mother, two brothers and one of my sisters-in-law."
The village head of Angwan Barde, Daniel Audu, 48, told Morning Star News by phone that the attack came as a surprise as they've never had any problems with the herdsmen.
"We have never had any misunderstanding with the Fulani herdsmen, so I don't know why they attacked our village," Audu said. "Ten members of my community, including a pregnant woman, were killed during the attack, thus making the unborn child to be the 11th victim."
He identified those killed as John Abbah, Moses Kabiru, Philemon Gomna, Samaila Jonathan, Maria Abbah, Ladi Samaila, Mairo Daniel, Marvelous Daniel, John Samaila and Joseph Samaila, along with the unborn baby.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population, while Muslims living primarily in the North and Middle Belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
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