Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill 20 Nigerian Christians in apparent act of vengeance

Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked three households in a village in Nigeria's Plateau state and killed 20 Christians and injured six others while they slept as an act of revenge over the beheading of a Fulani boy in another village.

(REUTERS / Adama Diarra)Three Fulani men sell traditional fabric on a road in Sevare, Mali, November 3, 2016.

In an interview with Morning Star News, Salama Baptist Church-Ancha secretary John Bulus said the villagers previously did not have any problems with the Fulani herdsmen who live nearby. He also said the residents were baffled over the Sept. 8 attack because the Fulani boy who was found slain several days ago was killed in another village.

"The village where they claim one of them was killed over a year ago is not part of our village, and we have never had any misunderstanding with them in the past," said Bulus. Nineteen members of his church were victims of the recent attack.

He added: "We never knew that these same Fulanis would return to attack us, as there is nothing that warrants an attack on us."

In addition, Bulus said he recognized some of the attackers as Fulani herdsmen who lived near their village. Other locals believe that there were Islamic extremists militants with the assailants.

"We found out that 20 persons were killed, and six others were grievously injured," Bulus added. "We found that those killed were from three households. We have in all, 50 households in this village."

Plateau Commissioner of Police Peter Ogunyanwo told the media that they were already investigating the recent massacre. He said they already arrested five suspects over the case of the slain Fulani boy, but none had been detained over the Ancha killings.

Meanwhile, a pastor who was kidnapped by Fulani men on Aug. 4 in Plateau state was released on Aug. 9. Christian leaders suspect that corrupt police were involved in the abduction of Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses and also accused the government of failing to deal with the series of similar incidents in the region, Morning Star News said in a separate report.

The kidnappers had earlier demanded 1 million naira (roughly $2,816 at the moment) for the release of Rev. Moses. Although church leaders did not confirm that a ransom had been paid, sources told the publication that money was exchanged to secure the pastor's freedom.