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A survivor of the attack by Fulani herdsmen in Central Nigeria on October 19 (CNA/Kyarto Tyoumbur)

Details are emerging of a violent raid by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria that reportedly left dozens of Catholic villagers dead. Source: CNA.

Police and clergy agree that the raid was in reprisal for the killing of four Fulani herdsmen earlier in the week in a clash between herdsmen and farmers defending their crops.

Accounts differ as to the exact number killed in the October 19 raid.

A county chairman, Kartyo Tyoumbur, said at least 71 residents of Gbjeji — virtually all of whom were worshippers at a parish branch of St Michael’s Catholic Church — were killed in the attack. He said at least 35 bodies were found after the raid and 36 more bodies were recovered later in adjoining fields. The dead included women and children, along with two policemen, he said.

“The Fulani terrorists came at 6am and began shooting indiscriminately,” a local priest, Fr Samuel Fila said. He was outside the village at a clerical assembly at the time of the attack but said an estimated 200 attackers participated in a well-coordinated raid, burning houses and slashing fleeing villagers with machetes.

“The village is currently deserted,” he related.

However, Wale Abass, the Benue State police commissioner, provided a much lower death toll of “no more than 10, including one policeman.”

He said the higher figures “may be due to newspaper exaggeration or by the fact that some of the families take the corpses of their family members away from the killing zones before an official count may be made”.

Mr Abass said no arrests have been made to date.


Dozens of Catholic villagers reportedly killed in Central Nigeria raid (By Douglas Burton, CNA)