Christians in Nigeria were violently assaulted by radical Muslims in the small village of Kulben, located in the central area of the country’s Plateau state Mangu County. At least thirteen civilians were murdered and three more were injured in the attack.
Nigerian outlet PM News reports that the Plateau Police Command confirmed the January 8 attack was suspected to be the work of armed members of the Muslim Fulani herdsmen extremist group, who have used violence in the past to suppress Christian communities in the African nation.
Police Public Relations Officer DSP Terna Tyopev explained, “In the early hours of today, we received a distress call that gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, attacked Kulben community of Kombun District of Mangu.”
“Immediately we received the information, the commissioner in charge of the command, Mr. Isaac Akinmoyede, directed the DCP in charge of Operations, Mr. Aliyu Tafida to mobilize to the scene,” he continued. “As I speak, our team of detectives and other officers are in the scene of the crime to prevent further attacks.”
Local resident Michael Mutding described the assault in a text message to Morning Star News.
“They were shooting with guns in all directions, forcing the villagers to scamper into surrounding bushes,” he said. “Corpses of those killed have been evacuated by soldiers and police to the mortuary of Mangu Cottage Hospital; and all the victims are members of COCIN.”
According to The Guardian, an eyewitness claims that the attack was in retaliation to villagers stopping the heavily armed herdsmen from cattle rustling outside the village of Kerang.
“It was a tough battle between the youths and the rustlers. At the end, three of them were arrested and some of the cows recovered. The cows and the suspects were handed over to the Police in Kerang,” the eyewitness said.
The deadly attack prompted swift responses from Nigerian lawmakers.
Local representative Bala Fwengje said in a statement, “This attack on my people by these herdsmen comes as a rude shock to us, as efforts have been made by security agencies to curtail such incessant attacks on our people.” He added, “It is a sad thing that these attacks are still being carried out by the herdsmen on our people without provocation.”
Plateau state Gov. Simon Bako Lalong echoed those sentiments. “We have toiled to ensure that peace returns to Plateau state, and we will not allow anyone to make nonsense of our efforts,” he said vowing to arrest the suspects. “We are determined to deal decisively and firmly with anybody found culpable in attacking or inciting people to carry out attacks against one another.”
Tyopev confirmed that no arrests have been made. “No arrest is yet to be made, but we are doing everything possible to ensure the criminals are arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
Local Christian leader Audu Tetmut told Morning Star News that the attack was a surprise, since the village has had no prior discernible tension with the radical group.
“Our community had lived peacefully with the herdsmen without any issues of dispute with them,” he said. “So we are surprised that they attacked us.”
Radical Muslims have engaged in a campaign to force the growing Christian community out of Nigeria. In May 2019, the Fulani herdsmen were suspected in an attack near the city Jos that took thirty civilian lives. This assault was on the heels of a March 2019 attack in Maro where over two dozen were killed.
The aid group Mercy Corps told the Gulf Times that the extremists’ attacks on villages and farmers have, “contributed to more than 7,000 deaths in the past five years.”