Killer-herdsmen have extended their bloody campaign to Taraba State, killing 55 people in Lau Local Government Area.
About 200 homes and huge piles of foodstuff were destroyed. Many people are missing in the attacks, which began last weekend.
Twenty-five bodies were recovered and given a mass burial on Tuesday when reporters and Bala Dan Abu, a media assistant to Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku, visited the area.
Policemen and soldiers cordoned off the area as the burial was hurriedly done by angry youths amid fear of the attackers coming for them.
“You know, I don’t like witnessing a funeral; what more, a mass burial like this,” Bala said, fighting back tears.
The affected area was deserted like a ghost town. Policemen and soldiers were on patrol.
Those buried were mostly children, women and elderly persons. Most of the bodies were recovered from burnt houses, bush paths and farmlands. The bodies had swollen.
Sources said some of the victims tried to escape from the marauders, but were hacked down by another set of herdsmen who ambushed them in large numbers.
The invaders used mostly “sophisticated guns and poisoned knives” to carry out the massacre, described by many as “genocide”.
Those who survived the herdsmen’s bullets are taking refuge in Abari, a settlement.
The bereaved spoke of their harrowing experiences when reporters visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
“Herdsmen are killing people in Lau,” Governor Darius Ishaku told The Nation on telephone on Tuesday night.
Ishaku attributed killings by Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country, to a “drive for territorial control”.
He blamed the elite for masterminding the violence for their political and economic interests. He urged Nigerians to pray for the country.
Taraba State Police Command confirmed the killings. Spokesman David Misal said the situation was calm yesterday.
Misal, who had earlier reported the casualty figures as 12 when the attack began, said “enough security personnel have been deployed in the area”. What we are doing now is to build confidence in the people.”
The Lau incident is the latest act of unprovoked aggression against communities in Taraba State by Fulani herdsmen.
On his facebook page yesterday, Dan Abu posted a lamentation:
He said: “Tears flowed freely on Tuesday in several communities in Lau, Taraba State, as youths in the area buried 25 corpses of their parents and children murdered last weekend by Fulani herdsmen who invaded their villages.
“Most of those killed were women, children and the aged who could not escape the gun and knife wielding herdsmen who invaded their communities at about 3pm on Friday, January 5.
“At least 25 corpses recovered from burnt houses, bush paths and nearby farms where the victims tried to hide from the killer Fulani herdsmen were buried on Tuesday.
“A combined team of armed soldiers and police men provided them security cover to enable them complete the funeral rites.
“Many of the youths spoke of their missing relations, burnt houses, farms, food items and other valuables as they sobbed profusely while talking to a group of jourlaists that visited them in Abari where most of those who survived the attacks escaped to.
“The Lau attack is the latest act of unprovoked aggression against communities in Taraba State by Fulani herdsmen. No fewer than 55 lives were lost, according to the accounts of the villagers while over 200 houses were burnt.”
Taraba State Commissioner of Police, David Akinremi, on Tuesday visited the affected area to see things for himself. Although no arrest were made. The police chief said “the attackers came from neighbouring Adamawa State, where they are already at war with the Bachama ethnic group.”
Some victims lamented their ordeals to this medium. David Jonathan, a cleric from Katebu tribe, in an emotion-laden voice, said “we don’t deserve this, because we didn’t provoke anyone.”