Human Rights Group Calls for Nigerian Security Review

Religious freedom watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called for an "urgent" review of security in Nigeria's Plateau State after an attack last Friday left at least eight Christians dead.

The attack occurred early on the morning of July 16 when a group of Fulani Muslims armed with guns and machetes stormed the village of Maza, just north of Jos, attacking residents and burning churches and homes.

According to CSW, the attack was focused on influential members of the community, the local councilor, the village head, and a local church leader.

The Rev. Nuhu Dawat of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) escaped the attack with one of his children, but his wife and two other children were killed.

Villagers told CSW that security forces had arrived in the area in time to intervene but waited until the attack was over to enter the village.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mazah at this sad time," said CSW National Director Stuart Windsor. "Once again, unarmed and peaceful villagers have been attacked and murdered in their beds, and once again there are indications that the security forces have not taken effective action, despite being in a position to do so."

"We once again urge the Federal authorities to urgently and comprehensively review the current security arrangements for Plateau State in order to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected and army units unwilling or unable to fulfill their duties effectively and without bias are brought to book," Windsor added.

Sectarian violence in Nigeria, which has left tens of thousands of people dead since military rule in the country ended in 1999, has been on an upsurge this year with more than 1,000 killed in clashes in January and March.

The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom has placed the country high on its list of dangerous territories while local religious and government leaders have increased their efforts to find peaceful solutions.

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