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Suspected Fulani militants kill 9 Christians in Nigeria's Plateau State

(Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)A man walks past a Fulani house made of leaves in Kaduna, Nigeria January 9, 2017.

At least nine Christians were killed in Nigeria's central Plateau state earlier this month after suspected Fulani militants ambushed them as they returned from a weekly village market.

According to a report from World Watch Monitor, the Christians were returning from the Makera market in a Volkswagen Golf when the militants ambushed them at the Diyan junction near Gako village.

Apart from the casualties, three people were seriously injured in the assault that took place on Nov. 7 at about 7:30 p.m. in Rim village.

A villager named Maria Joseph, who witnessed the incident, said that the assailants were a combination of Fulani and soldiers, who quickly fled after the attack.

Samson Dagwom, the driver of the Volkswagen Golf, had survived the attack by pretending to be dead. He said that while he was lying down, he heard the assailants speaking in English and Fulfulde, the Fulani language.

Army spokesman Captain Umar Adam said that an investigation on the incident is already underway and added that the findings would be revealed to the public as soon as possible.

World Watch Monitor noted that some of the victims were members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), while others were from the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). All nine victims were reportedly buried in a mass grave in Rim village.

The three people who were injured in the attack were treated at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital in Jos.

The Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the COCIN, said that he was "saddened" by the attack on the members of his church.

"We have continued to be forced into mourning the death of some our members for no just cause. Whatever it is, our faith is dependent on Jesus Christ, our Savior," he said.

Istifanus Gyang, a member of parliament in Nigeria's National Assembly, decried the attacks, saying it was carried out by "blood-thirsty killers and terror militia" whom he said were carrying out "ruthless banditry and brutal slaughter" in order to wipe out Christian communities and occupy their lands.

A report from Morning Star News indicated that a similar attack occurred in the same area a few weeks ago when Fulani herdsmen brutally killed a Christian woman, along with her son and daughter.

The chairman of the Riyom Council, Emmanuel Damboyi, called for the arrest of Fulani leaders in Riyom after they allegedly threatened to attack communities over the alleged killing of a missing Fulani boy.

"I think the Fulani leaders are not ready for peace, they should be arrested and questioned for these killings," he said.

The state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Soja Bewarang, had sent his condolences to the victims' families and urged security officials to "keep a closer and diligent watchful eye on Riyom, Barakin Ladi [the neighbouring LGA] and other hotspots in the state."

He also called on the Federal Government to put more effort in preventing further attacks by Fulani militants on Christian communities in the state.

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