Photo: House outside Jos, Nigeria, where five family members were slain
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim, ethnic Fulani herdsmen shot five members of a Christian family to death last week, including a 7-year-old boy, and killed another Christian as they fled, relatives said.
Alleged cattle theft may have been the pretext for targeting the predominantly Christian agrarian community, but the gunmen struck the family of 50-year-old Dung Peter only because his home on the eastern edge of Kunte-Kuru village, outside of Jos, was the most accessible for the guerrilla-style attack, they said.
As in other attacks by Fulani cattle herders, targeting a home on the edge of the village enabled the gunmen to slip back quickly into the bush before area Christians could defend themselves.
Gyang Musa Davou, 42, said his slain cousin – referred to as “brother” in Nigeria – had returned from work at 7 p.m.
“At about 10 p.m., he retired to his room to sleep, when suddenly gunmen invaded the village, broke into his room and killed him alongside his wife and three children,” Davou said. “And as they were leaving the house, they saw another man, also a Christian, Dung Dauda, 42, who was returning to the village at the time of the attack. They shot him dead just outside the house of my brother.”
Killed along with Peter were his wife, Rose, 47; his son, Sati, 25; his daughter, Taiye, 17; and his 7-year-old son, Samson.
Another son, 20-year-old David, was not in the house at the time and was the sole survivor. His family was part of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN).
Davou said the Fulani Muslim gunmen took the mobile phone of the slain Dauda and used it the next day to “phone some of our people, warning that they will again return to attack the village.”
He appealed to the Nigerian government to protect Christians from attacks that have increased in the past few years. According to Plateau Commissioner for Information and Communications Technology Abraham Yiljap, seven of the assailants have been arrested, and investigations are continuing.
Another relative, Danladi Peter, 46, told Morning Star News that the assault did not come as a surprise.
“This is not the first time these Muslim Fulani gunmen are attacking Christians here,” he said. “Last year in November, they attacked Dabak-Kuru and killed five Christians there.”
Like Peter, the Rev. Mancha Audu Gyang, 64-year-old area COCIN pastor, noted Fulani herdsmen accompanied by soldiers had entered the village two days prior saying they were searching for missing cattle.
“The village head here, Samuel Pwul, on hearing this, immediately invited the police, who came here and met with the soldiers and the Fulani men,” Gyang said. “We were assured that there wouldn’t be any problem, but our fears were confirmed when on the third day, the village was attacked by gunmen. So, we believe that they were here to survey the area before carrying out the attack.”
Gyang said Peter and his family were members of his church, while the sixth victim, Dauda, belonged to a Catholic church in the village. The five family members were buried in a single grave, while Dauda’s body was buried in his house.
“As for the Peter family, they were actively involved in the various ministries of the church,” he said. “For instance, Taiye was in the Girls Brigade.”
The attack was the third the community has suffered, the pastor said, as Fulani gunmen struck twice last year.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live primarily in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north, according to Operation World. Plateau state, in the central part of the country, is home to both Muslims and Christians.
c. 2013 Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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Publication date: September 11, 2013