by Masara Kim
At least ten Christians have been reported killed in an evening raid on a rural market in Benue State. A further eight people died in attacks on three villages following the raid.
On 3 November, Islamic militants from the Fulani tribe stormed a farmers' market in the Guma local government area (LGA) of Benue at about 4pm, shooting and burning houses, according to Daniel Adakole, a youth leader.
The attack in Ukohol village located close to the boundary with Nasarawa State displaced at least 800 families, said Adakole who is also a member of a local network of conflict monitoring groups.
The attack occurred hours after another gang of Fulani militants killed one person on a highway near Makurdi, the state capital, Adakole said in a phone interview.
The chairman of Guma LGA, Nyieakaa Mike, confirmed the attack in Ukohol village, saying the death toll could be higher.
“It happened during the village’s market day and we are suspecting that many more people could have been killed but have not been discovered,” Mike said over the phone.
He told Sahara Reporters children as young as two were amongst the victims.
"They didn’t stop at that point but went to three surrounding villages/settlements and killed another eight, making it a total of 18,” Mike told the paper.
150 killed in the past month
At least 150 Christians have been killed in separate attacks across the state in the past month, stated youth leader Adakole.
Over 70 died in an attack on 19 October in Gbeji village in Ukum County, Morning Star News reported, quoting Terumbur Kartyo, chairman of Ukum LGA.
Adakole says the 'piecemeal' attacks occurring on an almost daily basis have displaced thousands of rural farmers in the area regarded as the country's food basket. According to Benue State officials, close to two million internally displaced persons were living in camps in the state in March 2022.
"Benue has turned to a shooting range for these jihadists and the government is doing nothing to stop them," lamented Adakole.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has consistently accused President Muhammadu Buhari - himself a Fulani Muslim - of turning a blind eye to the attacks in Benue.
Benue police confirmed the Ukohol attack but made no further comment.