Once again Christian residents of Jos South have been slaughtered in the night. At around 2 a.m. on Wednesday 17 March, Fulani Muslims armed mostly with knives and machetes crept into Biye and Batam villages under cover of darkness. In an attack that bears striking resemblance to the 7 March massacre centred on Dogon-Nahawa in which as many as 500 died, the Fulani torched homes, fired gunshots into the air, and then hacked the predominantly Christian ethnic Berom to death as they fled. This attack left 12 dead and many others critically wounded. Amongst the dead were a 90-year-old woman, several children, and a pregnant woman who was hacked to death and burned with a baby strapped to her back. Some of the victims were murdered in their beds. Some of the victims had their tongues cut out.
The press release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) includes two photos (to be credited to CSW).
To understand why this indigene vs settler / Muslim vs Christian / Fulani vs Berom violence is occurring in Jos, see my earlier post entitled: Why is Jos such a tinderbox?
This latest attack has two very disturbing elements:
1) Reports of attackers in Nigerian army fatigues;
2) Reports that some of the victims had their tongues cut out.
There are many reasons to suspect that some of the military personnel posted to secure Jos South and enforce the curfew have actually been complicit in both the 7 March and 16 March massacres. However, the General Officer, Commanding 3 Armoured Division, Maj.-Gen. Sale Maina, disputes the claims of the villagers that soldiers were involved in the attacks.
We can only hope that he is right, because if the Nigerian army splits along partisan lines, then Nigeria will be in serious trouble indeed.
Mutilation of bodies.
Why would killers cut out and take the tongues of their victims? If they butchered their victims before killing them, then it was torture, torture for torture's sake, for the pleasure of the torturer, to satiate his hatred. Even if the tongues were cut out post-mortem (which is the most likely scenario), mutilation of the body still represents extreme hatred. The fact that the mouth was targeted indicates that it is the profession/speech/testimony of the victims that is most intensely despised.
Of course the removal and collection of victims' tongues can have one other purpose: that is, for use as juju -- occult charms. If this is the case then it indicates that some of the killers are practising both Islam and pre-Islamic African occultism. While syncretism of this sort is common in Africa, the mixing of ethnic-religious hatred and fierce competition + the Qur'anic/Islamic mandate to dominate + occultic power/influence can only herald more horror ahead for the Christians of Jos South.
Does this violence have a sponsor?
Jos Governor Jonah Jang has accused "Some key people in Nigeria" of being behind the violence. "Plateau State is under siege," he said. "The attacks on the Plateau are beyond misunderstanding within the ethnic groups in the state. Some key people in Nigeria are behind it.
"In fact, some international communities are involved. Some people are making money with human blood, when they attack us they would send them text messages that they need more money.
"Some billions of naira are coming into this country because of the crisis in Plateau State; but I see it as a battle against the nation and not Plateau."
Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi has suggested that Nigeria be partitioned between Muslims and Christians, supposedly to prevent more bloodshed (when in actual fact partition would lead to massive bloodshed). As Nigeria's oil lies in the south, Gaddafi is not recommending independence, merely separation with autonomy, with the oil wealth to be shared between north and south.
Gaddafi's proposition is being widely derided and Nigeria has recalled its ambassador to Libya in protest of the reckless statement. Regardless, many Muslims, local and foreign, will doubtless be greatly inspired by it.