Saturday, September 24, 2011

NIGERIA: Attack on Christian village in northern Nigeria

21/09/2011 - from C.S.W.

Extra soldiers and riot police have been drafted to Bitaro Village, Southern Kaduna following a religiously-motivated attack by armed Fulani tribesmen.

Village attacked

Soldiers and riot police have been drafted to Bitaro Village in southern Kaduna State following an armed attack that occurred in the early hours of Sunday. Four people were killed and over ten injured when armed Fulani tribesmen stormed the village in Jaba Southern Kaduna, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

Persisting tensions since April’s post-election violence

There has been continuing tension in Kaduna State since April, when hundreds were killed and thousands displaced in deadly post-election violence initiated by supporters of the unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party. The violence erupted in 18 of Kaduna’s 23 Local Government Areas – each equivalent to a London borough, and quickly took on a sectarian dimension. Tensions were further raised following the electoral victory of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial (state governorship) candidate, the first elected Christian governor in Kaduna’s history.

CSW fact-finding visit sees tensions first hand

During a recent visit to both northern and southern Kaduna, a team from CSW noted palpable tensions and heightened security, even in Kaduna City, the state capital. On the evening of 3 September, four Hausa-Fulani youths were detained by a team from Operation Yaki, the joint security unit charged with counter-terrorism, as they scouted out the mainly Christian neighbourhood of Malali, situated in a predominantly Muslim area of Kaduna City.

In the disused classrooms of a police barracks in Dankande, the team encountered 63 displaced families from four villages destroyed during the April violence, who were living in squalid conditions with inadequate food and water and were under threat of eviction. In every area visited, survivors of the April violence consistently described extensive looting occurring prior to the torching of their properties, and the deliberate targeting of church leaders and church-owned buildings. Several reported finding their possessions and clothing in the homes or on the persons of local Fulanis. In Soba LGA in northern Kaduna, 85 homes were destroyed, 22 churches razed and five girls were raped. The victims reported their attackers had been bussed in from elsewhere, adding that several local Muslims hid Christians in their homes and assisted in fighting the fires.

Last Sunday’s attack on Bitaro Village comes as Nigerian news agencies report a tightening of security in Kaduna and Kano States following information indicating that Gaddafi loyalists may have arrived in those states.

CSW continues to advocate for those in highly tense areas of Nigeria, particularly in northern and central states, where religiously-motivated violence often goes underreported or is ignored.

Please join our day of prayer and fasting for Nigeria.

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