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Attack in Nigeria’s Kaduna State “a massacre against natives”: Catholic Priest

Kaduna State. Credit: CSW

A Catholic Priest in Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna has described the Sunday, September 26 attack in the country’s Kaduna state as “a massacre” and one of the worst attacks against innocent Christians in the embattled Nigerian State.

The Priest who sought anonymity for his active service in the region confirmed the attack in which an estimated 49 people, including women and children, were killed saying “it was a massacre against the natives”.

“The Herdsmen came in in large numbers and began shooting at anything on sight,” the Catholic Priest told Middle Belt Times, and added, “We have counted 30 dead bodies mostly women and children, three still missing while five are receiving treatment in the hospital.”

The Priest also confirmed that at least 20 houses were burnt during the two-hour attack.

During the general audience Wednesday, September 29, Pope Francis said he had “learned with sorrow the news of the armed attacks last Sunday against the villages of Madamai and Abun, in Northern Nigeria.”

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“I pray for those who have died, for those who were wounded, and for the entire Nigerian population. I hope that the safety of every citizen might be guaranteed in the country," the Holy Father said at the end of the September 29 general audience.

According to the Catholic Priest who spoke to Middle Belt Times on condition of anonymity, the assailants first went to houses of people they knew usually helped in coordinating local security in the communities and killed them alongside their families before proceeding to other areas.

“The attackers obviously had a prior knowledge of who and who to kill before coming,” the Catholic Priest has been quoted as saying.

The leadership of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has spoken to sources who revealed that an additional 27 people were abducted in the attack that the sources said went on until Monday, September 27, when armed assailants of Fulani ethnicity raided communities in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kaduna State.

According to the Christian entity, eight people were killed, six were injured and several houses were burnt in an attack on Kacecere village in Zangon Kataf LGA, Southern Kaduna, on September 27.

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The organization further reports that one person died, an unknown number were injured and 27 were abducted following an attack on the Gabachuwa community in Kachia LGA, Southern Kaduna, on September 26.

The victim was killed while on his way to visit the Gabachuwa community, when he encountered the assailants as they led their captives away.

According to CSW’s sources, the victim and most of the abductees are members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).

Also on September 26, militia men attacked the Madamai and Abun communities in the Malagun District of Kaura LGA at around 6 p.m., killing 40 people and injuring eight in a “well-coordinated attack.” 

According to CSW, Kaduna State is currently “an epicenter of kidnapping and banditry activity.”

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“The predominantly Christian ethnic minority tribes who inhabit the Southern part of the State have experienced relentless attacks since 2011, with a significant uptick following the advent of the current administration in 2015,” the organization says in a Tuesday, September 28 report.

According to the organization that advocates for religious freedom in the world, the Nigerian State continues to experience alarming levels of violence despite being the headquarters of 11 military installations.

The organization has quoted a source who said, “Most communities in Southern Kaduna, including some in Birnin Gwari and Igabi, have more mass graves than government projects.”  

Sources in Nigeria have also questioned delayed response by the military in the country when attacks against Christians occur, saying that the assailants had allegedly notified villagers in advance that they would be launching an attack.

In the September 28 report, CSW Founder, President Mervyn Thomas, expresses the organization’s solidarity with victims of the attacks in Kaduna.

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“Once again our hearts break for the people of Southern Kaduna who continue to face relentless violence on a near daily basis,” Mr. Mervyn says, and adds, “We extend our deepest condolences to all those who lost loved ones in these attacks, and pray for the swift return of all abductees.”

The CSW President also calls on the authorities in Africa’s most populous nation to protect civilians without bias saying, “The State and Federal governments must do far more to protect all vulnerable communities in an unbiased manner, and to combat the threats posed by Fulani militia and other armed non-state actors.”

“This is also not the first-time allegations have been made of inadequate protection despite warnings of an impending attack. This is concerning, and must be investigated by the Nigerian government, and failing that, by the wider international community,” Mr. Mervyn says in the September 28 report.