More than 200 Muslim Fulani herdsmen have attacked predominantly Christian villages in southern Kaduna state, Nigeria since Jan. 6, killing at least 35 people and kidnapping 58 others, including a mother and her 6 month-old-baby, sources said.
Armed with Ak-47s, the herdsmen on motorcycles rampaged through 10 predominantly Christian villages in Chikun and Brinin Gwari communities, Christian leaders said. Traumatized people displaced by the violence, dispossessed of their farmlands and homeless, later received calls demanding thousands of dollars in ransom for the release of their relatives, they said.
“The herdsmen, or ‘bandits’ as they now call them, began their attacks on our communities on Monday, Jan. 6, killing, maiming and kidnapping members of our families without restraints by security agencies or the military,” pastor Habila Madama, a Christian leader in the affected areas, told Morning Star News. “The herdsmen have destroyed our farmlands and left us with nothing. These Muslim Fulani herdsmen will usually come with their cattle, forcefully take over our farms, and destroy crops ready for harvests.”
President Muhammadu Buhari and the Kaduna state government to take steps to end the violence. “As it is now, we don’t know where to go, what to feed on, or where do we get clothes to wear, especially for our children- and worst of all, where to lay our heads,” pastor Madama said.
The assailants have called relatives of the 58 kidnapped people demanding 10 million naira (US$27,440) in ransom, said Jonathan Asake, president of the southern Kaduna peoples’ Union (SOKAPU) at a press conference at a refugee camp at Ung war Beji, in Gonin Gora area of Chikun Country.