After killing thousands of Christians last year, militant Fulani radicals in the world’s 12th worst country for Christian persecution are already responsible for the deaths of at least 120 people in Nigerian Christian communities since February.
The nonprofit Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the militia killed 52 people, including women and children, and destroyed 100 homes last Monday in villages within the Kajuru local Government Area. The assailants reportedly divided into three groups – one of which shot and killed people. The other groups were responsible for setting fire to homes and intercepting any villagers attempting to flee.
Some international news media believe disagreements over grazing land and water are the main reason behind the attacks, but persecution watchdog groups like Open Doors USA and International Christian Concern believe the Fulani herdsmen are deliberately targeting Christians.
Church leaders in Nigeria said Fulani radicals were inflicting “pure genocide” on believers last July after they killed thousands, mostly women and children.
The Christian Association of Nigeria and church denominational heads in Plateau State had hoped the Nigerian government would "stop this senseless … blood shedding in the land and avoid a state of complete anarchy where the people are forced to defend themselves."
The leaders also issued a press release pleading with the international community and the United Nations to intervene before the Fulani attacks spread to other countries.
Last year included several mass-scale attacks, including the slaughter of over 200 people, mostly Christians, at the end of June in raids carried out by the herdsmen on local area farmers near the city of Jos.
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, reported last year that Christians and non-Muslims had been killed by the Fulani herdsmen and by Boko Haram radicals, who are a separate terror group.
Intersociety also warned of a genocide in its statement, The Christian Post reports:
"Nigeria is drifting to [a path of] genocide through killing, maiming, burning and destruction of churches and other sacred places of worship, and forceful seizure and occupation of ancestral, worship, farming and dwelling lands of the indigenous Christians and other indigenous religionists in Northern Nigeria," it said.
Roman Catholic Bishop William Avenya of Gboko separately told charity Aid to the Church in Need that the world cannot wait for a full-on genocide before deciding to intervene.
"Please don't make the same mistake as was made with the genocide in Rwanda," he pleaded, referring to the massacre of Tutsi people in Rwanda, where close to 1 million were killed in 1994.
"It happened beneath our noses, but no one stopped it. And we know well how that ended," Avenya said.
The majority of the Fulani militants are Muslim.