Military and security forces stood idly by during a 24-hour curfew, as at least 33 people were killed on 5 and 6 August in Fulani militant attacks on five Christian communities in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, southern Kaduna State, Nigeria.
According to Barnabas contacts, security personnel are patrolling and strictly enforcing the 65-day-long regional curfew on the mainly Christian residents, who are trapped in their homes and facing hunger, lack of medical care and arrest if they attempt to tend to crops. But military and other security forces were absent when the armed Fulani militants struck the communities.
In the first attack, at 11 p.m. on 5 August, Fulani militants arrived on trucks, passing through military checkpoints under the curfew, to attack Apiashyim and Kibori villages. Six people were murdered in Apiashyim. The militants then looted homes and razed 20 houses. In Kibori seven people were killed.
A local witness reported that, despite being aware an attack was underway, security personnel arrived only after it was over. “The security agencies are not here to protect us but to serve the interest of those attacking us,” said the witness.
Around midnight on 6 August, the militants descended on Atakmawei village, killing twelve people as they slept and burning down ten homes.
The Fulani militia went on to launch simultaneous assaults on Apyiako and Magamiya villages, leaving another three and five dead, respectively. The militants burnt out several homes in the communities.
According to terrified survivors in Apyiako, who watched from maize fields where they hid to escape the attack, armoured military vehicles and motorbikes arrived in the village square while the assault was underway, but no attempt was made to halt the violence. The assaults on villages raged on unchallenged by security forces until 4 a.m.
It is now difficult for families to source food under the rigid curfew and child malnutrition is on the rise. A local church and community leader said, “Parents cannot go out and look for food for their starving children. The sick are trapped at home. No one wants to risk the brutality of the military that are enforcing the curfew. Even if the curfew is lifted, freely grazing cattle herded by armed Fulani men have eaten up and trampled over thousands of hectares of grain farms, yam farms, [and] sugar cane crops among others.”
Nigerian Christian leaders have appealed to the international community and “men and women of conscience all over the world” to come to the aid of Christians facing “what looks like a government sponsored genocide” in southern Kaduna State. In early August, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) sent a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague asking for it to act now against the “pernicious genocide” in northern Nigeria.