Gunmen, Sunday, killed more than 100 people in some parts of Plateau State, survivors and local authorities said on Tuesday. The attackers targeted four villages in Kanam area, the most recent in a series of violent attacks in Nigeria’s north. Such attacks have become frequent, especially between cattle herders and crop farmers.
In this latest attack, the assailants arrived Sunday afternoon, ransacking houses and shooting at residents, according to eye witnesses. A survivor and Kanam youth leader who is helping those displaced and injured said, “The people that have been killed are more than 100.” Other witnesses said as many as 130 died and many others were injured and displaced.
The police and the state government confirmed the attacks but did not give details as to the cause or number of casualties. On social media, videos viewed appeared to show razed houses and bodies wrapped in mats and bags in mass graves. Many were buried even before their loved ones had been informed.
While nobody had as yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, accusations and counter accusations had been made. The assailants “were well-armed” with AK-47 rifles and machetes and arrived on dozens of motorcycles, each carrying up to three men, said an eyewitness.
Almost a week after the attacks, Kanam was still tense and calm had not been fully restored, Dayyabu Yusuf Garga, chairman of the Kanam local government authority, said. Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong directed security forces to restore peace and order in the affected villages and vowed “to make it difficult for terrorists and other criminals to set up their bases in any part of the state,” according to a government statement. It said the State Security Council had adopted “far-reaching measures to strengthen security.”
The usual condemnations and assurances have greeted these latest killings. But nothing has changed for the better. It is not as though the government is not trying. The truth is rather that its efforts often are too late. Security forces are outnumbered and outgunned by the armed groups in the volatile areas.
However, this not suggesting we give up. To do so is to hand the country over to the enemy to “steal, kill and destroy”.