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At least five people were killed Tuesday night in an attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria.

The attack took place just after 10 p.m. in the Benue state. Eyewitnesses told The Pillar that assailants stormed the Anyiin-Ayilamo village in the community of Mahanga. They shot two locals before moving to Ayilamo in Tombo ward, where they killed three additional people and injured three others.

Injured villagers were taken to Ayilamo Comprehensive Health Centre. But staff at the facility were overwhelmed by the number of patients, and some were later transferred to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital in the capital city of Makurdi.

The Pillar confirmed that five people died in the attack, including one teenager, while three others sustained various degrees of injury. It is possible that the death toll from the attack will rise, as victims are reportedly in critical condition.

Chief Enoch Ikyumen, the traditional ruler of the community, visited the hospital where victims were receiving care. He decried the violence and appealed to local and federal government officials to increase security in order to protect the people.

Benue State’s governor is Hyacinth Alia, a Catholic priest suspended from ministry because of the Church’s prohibition against clerics holding civil office. 

Alia condemned the attacks and vowed not to rest “until such barbaric acts are curtailed.”

In a statement released by his press office, the governor stressed that “Benue is an agrarian society whose economy is largely based on producing and maintaining crops and farmlands.”

“We cannot watch our people killed daily on their farmlands and their villages,” he said.

Violence against Christians is common in Nigeria, particularly the northern part of the country, where both Boko Haram militants and Fulani herdsmen have carried out attacks, often with impunity. 

A number of priests and seminarians are currently missing in the country, following kidnappings several months ago.

Also on Tuesday, suspected Fulani bandits attacked a Benedictine monastery in northern Nigeria, abducting three people from the monastery.

Last month, a Catholic seminarian was burnt to death during an attack on the rectory of his parish in north central Nigeria.

The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have repeatedly criticized the government for its reluctance to prosecute terrorist groups.

In a joint statement last month, they called on the nation’s government “to address the fundamental defective structures that deepened inequality and poverty.”

They also encouraged a renewed commitment to morality and religion to help alleviate the wide array of problems facing Nigeria.

“We urge parents to be alive to their responsibilities by word and example in raising their children according to ethical values,” they said. “As Church, we are committed, more than ever before, to the catechetical formation of all our faithful.”

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