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June 23, 2018, will remain a dreadful day to the people of Plateau State. It was the day gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded Gashish district communities, dominated by the Berom people, and killed over 200 persons, burnt houses and forced their inhabitants to take shelter at Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps.
In the wake of the killings, Gashish district in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area, where the highest number of deaths was recorded, has now become a ghost town occupied by cows and herders.
Reminiscing on how the killings started, The Protocol Officer (PRO) of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Regional Church Council, RCC, Rev. Dyelman Davwar, said Fulani militia, armed with sophisticated weapons and machetes, launched attack in Nghar village while women, children, and the aged were asleep.
Speaking with bitterness, he said the attack started in the afternoon of the previous day at about 3 pm, when mourners returning from the burial of a 90-year-old man who attended their church were ambushed and massacred by the Fulani militia.
Afterwards, the murderous gunmen, according to Davwar, moved into villages and began to set homes ablaze. He recalled that as some of the people rushed out in a bid to escape, they were mercilessly shot dead or cut down with machetes.
Some reports had indicated that the attacks were likely reprisals for cows allegedly stolen by youths from the Berom community in the previous three weeks.
Following the attacks, on Sunday, June 24, angry Berom youths erected barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who they believed to be Fulani or Muslims.
In Kakuruk community, one of the affected areas, the COCIN church in Gashish was one of the buildings torched by the assailants. However, in spite of their agony and losses, worshippers of the COCIN continue to meet for fellowship.
On the day TheNewsGuru.com’s correspondent visited the remains of the burnt place of worship, the ceilings were gone and one could see the heavens through the destroyed rooftop. 15 worshippers, undeterred by the destruction and the possibility of another attack, were in attendance.