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Suspected Fulani radicals open fire at wedding party in Nigeria, killing at least 21

Gunmen kill at least 30 in 2 attacks in Kaduna on Monday and Sunday

Suspected Fulani radicals open fire at wedding party in Nigeria, killing at least 21

Christians in Nigeria take part in funerals in April 2019. | Intersociety

At least 30 people have been killed in separate attacks carried out by suspected Fulani militants in the Kaduna state of Nigeria in recent days, including over 20 who were killed in an attack on a wedding venue on Sunday. 

According to Nigerian media, at least 10 people were killed Monday evening in an attack on the rural Gora Gan village in the Zangon Kataf local government area while seven others were said to have been injured. 

Pastor Isaac Ango Makama, the vice chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria chapter in Zango Kataf, confirmed the attack in comments provided to the Daily Post newspaper. 

He was quoted as saying that there were as many as 50 attackers who shot their weapons sporadically and burned houses. 

Makama said that while most of the bodies of the deceased were sent to a local hospital, some community members are still searching for their loved ones. 

The attack came a day after at least 21 others were reported killed and as many as 30 others were injured when suspected gunmen attacked the Kakum Daji Village of Kaduna’s Kaura local government in Kaduna Sunday night. 

Yashen Titus, head of the local community’s development association, told Vanguard newspaper that gunmen believed to be herdsmen opened fire on a wedding party at around 10:35 p.m. He said 19 people died at the wedding venue while two others later died at a hospital. Those who were injured were also taken to the hospital, he said. 

“As I speak, some of the villagers are still missing and we don’t know their whereabouts or their situation,” Titus said. “We cannot even search deep into the bush because security agents have not been deployed to the community yet.” 

These attacks follow a spate of other attacks carried out by suspected Fulani militants on predominantly Christian villages in the Kaduna state, which is located in north-central Nigeria. 

Across the country’s Middle Belt states, radicals from the predominantly Muslim and nomadic Fulani herding tribes have carried out countless attacks and overrun farming communities in recent years as desertification has made fertile land more scarce over the years. 

Estimates suggest that thousands have been killed in recent years by Fulani attacks on farming villages, while thousands of others have been displaced from their homes and farms. 

It should be noted that not all Fulanis, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, are involved in such attacks. Advocates for Christians in Nigeria believe that some Fulani radicals in recent years have been influenced by extremist groups to carry out attacks with sophisticated weapons. 

According to nongovernmental organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, at least 22 other people were killed and others displaced in attacks carried out between July 10 and July 12 in remote communities in Kaduna’s Zangon Kataf area by armed assailants of Fulani ethnicity. 

Several other attacks attributed to Fulani radicals have occurred in Kaduna this year, including attacks in May that took the lives of the over 23 people in the Gonan Rogo village inhabited by the Adara people. 

“The ongoing violence and loss of life in southern Kaduna is emblematic of an enduring failure or unwillingness on the part of both levels of government to fulfill the responsibility to protecting all citizens in an effective and unbiased manner,” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement. 

“International pressure must be brought to bear on both the state and federal authorities to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected, that both the inciters and perpetrators of these attacks are brought to justice and that survivors receive compensation and humanitarian assistance.”

Pressure on the Nigerian government is mounting as an international movement of advocates has demanded that the country's leaders be held accountable for their inability to thwart communal attacks in the Middle Belt and Islamic extremism plaguing the country’s northeast. 

Advocates have warned of the genocidal implications that could come from international inaction on this issue.

Last week, the Family Research Council, a leading conservative evangelical advocacy and lobbying group in Washington D.C., issued a policy report calling on the Trump administration to consider sanctions against Nigeria and cuts to foreign assistance. 

Religious freedom activists are also calling on the Trump administration to appoint a State Department special envoy to monitor the situation in Nigeria. 

As one group estimated earlier in March that as many as 11,500 Nigerian Christians have been killed between 2015 and 2020, Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst country in the world for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.  

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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