Three Christian villages were burned down in an attack Friday night in Nigeria's Kaduna state, with reports stating that more than 100 people were "hacked and burned to death," allegedly by Muslim gunmen.
"We are still picking bodies out of the bush, but so far there are more than 100 killed," said Daniel Anyip, vice chairman of the Kaura local government authority, according to Reuters.
Chenshyi village chief Nuhu Moses revealed that the entire village was burned down, with gunmen having killed more than 50 people.
"The unfortunate attack on our communities has led to killing of more than 100 Christians," the Rev. Yakubu Gandu Nkut, chairman of the Zankan area chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Morning Star News. "The wife of one of our pastors, Mrs. Jummai Likita Riku, and her three children, from the ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) church, Ugwar Sankwai, were killed in the attack."
While the attackers have not yet been officially identified, The Associated Press noted that thousands of people have lost their lives in recent years in competition for land and water between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers.
One resident of Ugwar Sankwai village, who managed to escape alongside his wife and 22 children and grandchildren, but lost his brother, said he saw Fulani gunmen pouring fuel on his house and setting it on fire.
"I thank God no one was killed in my household. My brother was not so lucky. They burned him and 40 people hiding in his house alive," said 49-year-old Bulus Mallam.
Human Rights Watch said in December that over 3,000 people have lost their lives in the central region of Nigeria since 2010, and has criticized the Nigerian government for not doing more to try and stop the escalating violence.
Nigeria, largely divided between Christians and Muslims, has been locked in intense religious and ethnic strife, with Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram waging a war on Christians and the Nigerian government, bombing and gunning down churches, congregations, schools and government buildings in its mission to establish Islamic rule.
Last week, the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans called on the federal government to offer more help for the thousands of Nigerians who are fleeing the country to escape Boko Haram's attacks. According to the U.N. refugee agency, more than 470,000 people have been displaced from the northeastern states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno inside Nigeria.
"Boko Haram is making nonsense of the claim of the Nigerian government to be in charge of the situation, and we want the federal government to redouble its security effort to contain the situation again," said CANAN Executive Director Pastor Laolu Akande.