Armed Fulani herdsmen have reportedly killed at least 28 people, including women and children, during an attack on a village in Nigeria's Plateau State.
Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern (ICC) reported on Tuesday that the raid occurred on the Nkedoron community, just weeks after a Fulani militia invaded a neighboring village.
The Rev. Andrew Okebe, the Zonal Coordinator of Christian Association of Nigeria, Miango District, recalled that the women and children were instructed to hide in the primary school while some of the men in Nkedoron joined the soldiers in patrolling the area. However, the soldiers reportedly fled when the militia arrived, leaving the villagers defenseless.
ICC noted that the soldiers stationed at the village were part of Operation Safe Haven, which was launched by the government to confront the Fulani militant violence in Nigeria's Middle Belt. The soldiers' decision to leave the village before the attack has left many to question their dedication to defending the communities against militant attacks.
The Nigerian military has reportedly been unable to prevent the continued attacks carried out by Fulani militants on villages.
In the village of Ancha, 20 members of a Baptist church were reportedly killed by Fulani militants just a few weeks ago.
In 2017 alone, there have been more than 30 attacks on Christian villages, resulting in the deaths of over 250 people and the destruction of hundreds of homes.
ICC Regional Manager for Africa Nathan Johnson called on the Nigerian government to condemn the attacks to ensure that the perpetrators are punished.
In the wake of recent attacks, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the military and the police to draw up a plan to ensure that no more attacks will take place in Plateau state. The president has also issued a statement to express his sadness over the recent killings.
"President Buhari believes that this madness has gone too far. He has instructed the military and the police to not only bring the violence to an instant end, but to draw up a plan to ensure that there are no further attacks and reprisal attacks by one group against the other," read a statement signed by Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity.
"President Buhari is devoted to the sanctity of Nigeria's unity, and he encourages Nigerians of all groups to learn to live together in peace and harmony. He commiserates with the governor and people of Plateau state, and with those who lost their loved ones, friends and family: May God comfort them as only He can," it continued.