By Agnes Aineah
Kaduna, 19 April, 2023 / (ACI Africa). Published with permission.
A five-year-old boy was reportedly beheaded when Islamists attacked a village in Southern Kaduna State, leaving dozens of people dead.
In the April 15 attack, the killers descended on Runji village in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Southern Kaduna State, leaving 33 people dead, among them 14 children.
Condemning the attack in a Tuesday, April 18 report, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called on the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian government to end the killing of innocent civilians in the West African country.
CSW’s Press and Public Affairs Team Leader, Kiri Kankhwende, finds it regrettable that attacks continue on Nigerians in Kaduna and Benue States unabated as the international community does little to help.
Kankhwende says that innocent people in Nigeria continue to suffer unspeakable horrors as the authorities at both State and Federal levels, and that “the international community, do far too little to protect or assist them.”
“The unaddressed insecurity has now metastasized and constitutes a threat to Nigeria’s territorial integrity, with serious implications for the region, the continent, and the wider international community,” the CSW official says.
He adds, “The international community must assist in this regard wherever possible, including by holding the federal and state governments to account, should they continue failing to fulfill their duty towards citizens.”
Expressing solidarity with the victims of the April 15 Islamist attack in Southern Kaduna, the CSW Press official says, “We extend our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in these recent attacks in Benue and the southern Kaduna States and wish those who have been hospitalized a swift and full recovery.”
The 33 victims of the attack on Runji village were reportedly buried in a mass grave amid distressing scenes.
“Fourteen of the victims were children and including a five-year-old boy who was reportedly beheaded. Several others were reportedly burnt beyond recognition,” CSW reports.
The human rights foundation quotes survivors who said that at least 200 militia descended on the village at around 10.30 p.m. on April 15, “shooting sporadically” and setting fire to around 40 houses.
The attackers are said to have operated for over an hour before leaving, informing surviving villagers they would be returning.
Some of the terrorists are also said to have lost their lives when soldiers and local vigilantes engaged them.
CSW reports that Zangon Kataf LGA has been under sustained attack since Nigeria’s general elections period came to an end, despite the area having a joint military and police camp stationed 3km from its main town.
An attack on Ungwan Wakili on the evening of March 11 claimed the lives of around 17 people, most of them women and children, allegedly following “a series of complaints of cow poisoning and destruction of farm produce by both herders and locals in the area” and an altercation between security operatives and Fulani herders on motorcycles.
The attack on March 11 occurred four days after 88 people were killed in a similar assault on an IDP camp in Benue State that had also largely targeted women and children, eliciting a rare but strong condemnation from the United Nations (UN) Office in Nigeria.
The Nigerian presidency was also prompted to issue a statement lamenting the “concerted attack on innocent citizens in the state”, adding that “law enforcement agencies must take serious action to put an end to this.”
Despite the condemnation, the attacks in Nigeria continue unabated, CSW laments, making reference to the April 5 raid on the Dutsen Bako community in Zangon Kataf LGA in which at least four people were killed.
In another attack on April 12, nine people were killed, four were injured and five homes were damaged during an attack on Tanjei village in the area.
CSW reports that among the casualties in the April 12 attack were a sleeping eight-year-old girl who was left behind by her fleeing family and died from a gunshot to the stomach, and a pregnant woman who was a month away from her due date.
According to Kankhwende, concerted and concrete action is essential to ensure that the Nigerian security forces are adequately resourced to combat the threats posed by terrorist groups operating in the country, and to protect vulnerable communities.
He describes the insecurity in Nigeria as “deeply distressing”, adding, “Such events are not at all uncommon for many communities in Nigeria.”
SOURCE ACI Africa. Published with permission.