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66 killed in pre-election violence in Nigeria

West & Central Africa

66 killed in pre-election violence in Nigeria

Not less than 66 persons including 22 children and 12 women have been killedin Kajuru Local Government Area of kaduna state, central Nigeria by gunmen suspected to be Islamic Fulani cattle herdsmen militia attacking the the Adara farming communities in the region.

Fulani Herdsmen

Witnesses accounts said the killings started on Sunday night, February 10, by suspected Fulani gunmen who invaded Angwan Barde, in Adara community, killing 11 people and many barely escaping with varying degrees of injuries. Angry youths launched a reprisal attacks on Monday 11 February, which led to this attack.

Confirming that the attack targeted eight villages, Samuel Aruwan, the spokesperson to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, on Friday 15 February, said“security agencies today reported the recovery of 66 bodies that were killed in attacks by criminal elements on various dispersed hamlets in the Maro Gida and Iri axis of Kajuru LGA. The settlements affected include Ruga Bahago, Ruga Daku, Ruga Ori, Ruga Haruna, Ruga Yukka Abubakar, Ruga Duni Kadiri, Ruga Shewuka and Ruga Shuaibu Yau,” Aruwan said.

Village destroyed by herdsmen in Southern Kaduna

“Among the victims were 22 children and 12 women. Four wounded persons rescued by the security agencies are now receiving medical attention,” the governor’s spokesman said adding that the state government “condemns the attacks and commiserates with the families of the victims. Security agencies have been deployed to the area and arrests have been made.”

Aruwan “urged community, traditional and religious leaders in the area to encourage residents to avoid any reprisal attacks and to leave the matter in the hands of the security and law enforcement agencies. The killings are being investigated and residents are assured that indicted persons will be prosecuted,” he added

This massacre came barely 24 hours to Nigeria’s scheduled general election which has been postponed by a week.

Observers have noted that though the attack may not be directly related to the general elections, it is difficult to see how these communities would participate in the voting in the rescheduled elections in a week.

Kaduna state has a history of electoral violence, mostly by muslim youths on vulnerable Christian communities who are minorities within the city.

Hassan John is West Africa Editor GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos. Image Credits: Author