Islamic Fulani herdsmen have reportedly killed at least 28 people, including Christian women and children, in a raid on a village in Plateau State, Nigeria.
Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported on the recent attack on Tuesday, explaining that the violent raids by the Fulani on Christian villages are escalating as the terrorists migrate further south.
The Rev. Andrew Okebe, the Zonal Coordinator of Christian Association of Nigeria, Miango District, explained what happened during the attack:
"The soldiers had told the women and children to go and hide in the primary (elementary) school class at night while the men in the village constituted a vigilante group and join[ed] the soldiers in patrolling the area. Sadly, the militia descended and the soldiers fled, leaving the defenseless villagers to be massacred by the terrorists."
Nigerian military has reportedly been unable to stop the continued assault by the Fulani on villages. Civilians have been left defenseless in the face of Islamic jihadists who want to occupy their land, Okebe said.
There have been more than 30 attacks on Christian villages alone in 2017, with the herdsmen slaughtering over 250 people and burning down hundreds of homes.
"We pray for those who are suffering the pain of loss. This unbelievable act of violence is becoming all too common for Christian villages in Nigeria's Middle Belt region," said ICC Regional Manager for Africa Nathan Johnson.
"The government of Nigeria must not only condemn the violence, but take the necessary steps to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and unable to commit these acts again. Until then, Christian villagers in the Middle Belt will be left to wonder if their community will be next."
Naij.com reported on the increasing attacks in Plateau state, with President Muhammadu Buhari speaking out against the growing number of casualties.
"President Buhari believes that this madness has gone too far. He has instructed the military and the police to not only bring the violence to an instant end, but to draw up a plan to ensure that there are no further attacks and reprisal attacks by one group against the other," read a statement by Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity.
"President Buhari is devoted to the sanctity of Nigeria's unity, and he encourages Nigerians of all groups to learn to live together in peace and harmony.
"He commiserates with the governor and people of Plateau state, and with those who lost their loved ones, friends and family: May God comfort them as only He can."
In September, 20 Christians, including nine children, were slaughtered by the Fulani in the village of Ancha. Nineteen of the casualties were members of the Salama Baptist Church.
According to Morning Star News, police believe the attack was an act of revenge for a Fulani boy who was beheaded in a nearby village.
In August, the Rev. Jen Moses, a pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All, was kidnapped by suspected Fulani hersdsmen while on his way to a church leadership seminar, but was later released.
ECWA General Secretary the Rev. Yunusa Nmadu accused the Nigerian government of failing to protect the people.
"The Evangelical Church Winning All is seriously worried about the growing spate of insecurity and criminality in Nigeria which appears to have overwhelmed the government and its security agencies as nowhere — home, market places, work places, worship places and our highways — are safe," he said then.
"Like many other Nigerians, ECWA members are suffering the brunt of insecurity on our highways which have been taken over by armed robbers and kidnappers who kill, maim, torture, rape, steal and extort outrageous ransoms from their helpless poor victims while security agents looks away."