Witnesses: 37 dead in latest violence in northern Nigeria

At least 37 villagers were killed in northern Nigeria on Sunday in an attack on a remote village, witnesses said.

The attack in the Kaura council area in the troubled Kaduna state was attributed to a protracted religious crisis between Hausa-Fulani residents, who mostly reside in the northern part of the state, and Christians who are concentrated in the south.

Residents and health workers at the hospitals where the corpses and wounded were taken told The Associated Press how assailants arrived in large numbers in Madamai village with guns and machetes on Sunday evening.

A police spokesperson in Kaduna said he had not been made aware of the incident in the area known as a hotspot of violence. In August, five people were killed and some houses were set on fire in a similar outbreak of violence in Kaura.

Sunday, “37 people were killed; 35 corpses (were) found in the village, two (died) in hospital, ”said Derek Christopher, local nurse at Kafanchan General Hospital. He said the initial death toll was 30 on Sunday night.

The injured received emergency medical treatment before being referred to Bingham University Hospital in Plateau State, located about 115 kilometers from the affected village.

At Plateau hospital, Sunday Eze said he narrowly escaped after being shot by the attackers. “They shot me in the hand,” he said, and when asked how many armed men there were, added sadly: “There were many; these people.”

Another resident who oversees the care of the wounded said the attackers were “Fulani shepherds”, referring to the Fulani tribe herders who have for many years clashed with predominantly Christian communities in southern Kaduna.

“We have gunshots and we have machete cuts,” said resident Cecilia Simon. “At the hospital here, there are six of us (who have arrived from the village). This thing is not our fault; it may be the government’s fault.

In Nigeria’s middle belt and central regions, deadly clashes between local communities and Fulani herders continue in a cycle of violence that has defied measures introduced by authorities, including the deployment of thousands of security agents to restore peace.

Security guards deployed to hotspots of violence typically leave these areas after their special security operation is completed, once again leaving isolated communities with an inadequate security presence.

Arrests are rarely made, and in Kaduna state authorities have been accused of failing to act on reports from government commissions set up to investigate the crisis.