Fulani herdsmen burn down 9 churches in Nigeria as Christians decry ongoing violence

(Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)People react as a truck carries the coffins of people killed by the Fulani herdsmen, in Makurdi, Nigeria January 11, 2018.

Suspected Fulani herdsmen have burned down nine churches and have killed at least 30 people in two separate attacks against Christian communities in Nigeria's Adamawa state.

According to World Watch Monitor, a group of armed men attacked and burnt down Shima and Shiure villages on Feb. 2 and carried out another assault on Tinde and Dumne villages on Feb. 4.

One local source said that the second attack occurred in broad daylight, as people were about to go to church. Many innocent people were chased and killed by the assailants, who also burned down lots of properties, including nine churches, according to the source.

"Despite several calls to the governor and his deputy, and other security apparatus, the government remained silent as the atrocities continued," he said.

"The Fulani were able to carry out their deadly attack. They stayed for hours in the vicinity, moving at will, unchallenged," he added.

Other parts of Nigeria have also been affected by the violence perpetrated by armed Fulanis. In the central state of Nasarawa, around 25 villages inhabited mostly by Christian farmers from the Tiv ethnic group have been destroyed since Jan. 15.

An umbrella group, "Concerned Indigenous Tiv People," has lamented that the authorities are not doing enough to protect their communities.

"Since the outbreak of the crisis on the 15th January, this year, due to the Fulani/herdsmen attack on our villages, leading to the displacement of Tiv in their ancestral homes, the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura, has done very little to bring the situation under control," the group wrote in a statement.

In Benue State, two people were killed and many others were injured following an attack attributed to Fulani herdsmen in Waku village.

As many as 73 people were buried during state-organized mass funerals in January following violence over the New Year in the state's capital of Makurdi.

Due to the ongoing violence, the state's governor, Samuel Ortom, called on the people of the state on Feb. 6 to defend themselves from herdsmen attacks.

On Feb. 7, the Nigerian Army vowed to send troops into the restive Middle Belt region in an attempt to crackdown on clashes between herdsmen and farmers as well as the attacks on innocent villagers.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International castigated the Nigerian Air Force for launching air raids in Adamawa State in an attempt to deter the communal violence. The Air Force had confirmed that jets have been dispatched, but they were only instructed to fire only "warning shots."

Locals have provided Amnesty with 86 names of the people who were killed on the day of the air raids. Those who were involved in burying the victims noted that 51 sustained gunshot or machete wounds, while Amnesty estimated that 35 had died as a result of the air strikes.

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