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Terrorist Kidnappers Claim 31 Lives in Southern Kaduna Over Weekend

Iowa-Based NGO Readies Emergency Aid Convoy to Targeted Town

By Luka Binniyat

(Kaduna) Five civilian guards paid the supreme price after soldiers located just 3miles away failed to respond to distress calls. With only hunting rifles in their hands, they struggled to fend off 50 terrorists armed with assault rifles. For more than 45 minutes, the attackers, shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” laid siege to the village of Kurfi, located 34 miles southwest of Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna State in northwestern Nigeria. When police finally arrived the next morning, at least six people were dead, including one civilian, and five residents were missing, believed to be held captive in the surrounding forests.

Two days later, in yet another invasion of a nearby village, 14 people were confirmed dead and an alarming 50 residents unaccounted for.

It was a familiar night for the community of former Muslim residents who converted to Christianity and settled in the villages known as Kwassam, located in the Kumana district of Kauru county. They were accustomed to the buzzing sounds of motorcycle convoys ferrying armed terrorists in and out of the surrounding forests. But what they didn’t anticipate was that after midnight February 16 they would encounter their darkest hour.

An American nonprofit organization dedicated to aid victims of the Nigerian genocide has pledged to send food and medicine after an initial assessment is completed by its staffers on the ground.

“We stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters,” said Judd Saul, founder of Equipping the Persecuted to TruthNigeria by cell phone. “We pray that the Nigerian government steps up and starts defending its defenseless citizens.”  According to the Council on Foreign Relations; Security Tracker, at least 88,000 citizens have been slaughtered in Nigeria since 2009 in a complex civil war pitting insurgents and radicalized bandits against the secular government.

Fog of War Fuzzes the Motivation of the Attackers

“Kidnapping has been common in Kauru LGA since May 2023,” said Augustine Baye, a town leader in the area. “But this was the most violent in which so many people were carted away,” said Baye to TruthNigeria.  The motivation for such wanton attacks remains a topic of debate. The U.S. Mission in Abuja attributes such loss of life to “communal clashes,” whereas the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) and many religious freedom advocates have charged that the attacks are motivated by Islamist sectarian hatred.

“They  [the terrorists] were about 50 and they came on foot and some on motor bikes, each bearing two, all armed. The local vigilantes couldn’t withstand them after they put on initial resistance,” Baye said by telephone.  Citizen guards armed with pump-action shotguns are dubbed “vigilantes” in Nigeria.

TruthNigeria interviewed a local pastor who said another 14 people were killed close to Kwassam when the terrorists returned to the area the following two days.

“When the attackers left, we counted 14 dead bodies,” Baye said to TruthNigeria. “Most of them were burnt alive, especially children and women. Three were killed from gunshots and machete cuts,” said Baye.

Police have disputed the figures from the locals, saying only five people were killed and another five kidnapped.

“Unknown Gunmen” Known to Their Victims

For years Nigerian press have been coached by police and army spokesmen to call the deadly raiders of thousands of rural villages as “unknown” gunmen, yet in all such attacks, the killers speak the Fulfulde language, according to Pastor Ayuba Sambo, a missionary with Soul Salvation International Ministry. “The criminals are always Muslim Fulani herdsmen, some of them even known by community members,” according to Sambo. “But as soon as they are arrested and taken to the police, they find their ways back to their ruga (huts of straw) to tend to their cattle. So, people are frustrated and afraid,” he said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from armed men believed to be from the same retreating Fulani armed group who stormed Gindin Dutse, in Kachia LGA has risen to 31 with 13 houses burned, including a church.

Pastor  Sambo said to Truth Nigeria that he narrowly escaped from the attack.

“I saw smoke and flames. Women and children were screaming and gunshots everywhere,” he said.

“I just chose one direction and ran with only my short pants and the T-shirt I slept with,” he added.

“It was a shocking attack, because we have always seen those bandits ride past in large numbers to their camp which everyone knows is not far from here (Gindin Dutse) and they have never molested us,” he added.

He said that there were two permanent military checkpoints on the main Kaduna – Kafanchan express road just about 3 miles away and he wondered why they never came up while the attack lasted for around 45 minutes.

“When the attackers left, we counted 14 dead bodies. Most of them were burnt alive, especially children and women. Three were killed from gunshots and machete cuts. St Dominic Catholic Church was razed by the terrorists,” he said.

“There is no doubt that they are Fulani. They have attacked some other places before coming here,” he added.

Kaduna State Government has yet to issue a statement on this tragedy. Kaduna State Police Spokesman ASP Mansir Hassan did not also respond to inquiries from TruthNigeria.

Luka Binniyat, an award-winning journalist, covers terrorism and crime in Southern Kaduna for TruthNigeria.com

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