'My uncle was shot in the back and slaughtered like a goat.' Survivors of southern Kaduna killings speak out

Didam Amadi, one of the victims of the July 24 attack on the Zikpak community in northern Nigeria.

(CNN)Daniel Bala was walking home from church early on Friday evening. He had just attended choir practice and was looking forward to getting home to his wife and newborn baby who was just two days old.

Suddenly, gunshots rang out and Bala, 49, was forced to take cover in a nearby yam farm, where he hid behind a ridge from the attackers, suspected militia herdsmen who had previously targeted farming communities like theirs in the region, according to local government officials.
It was the second assault on the community in as many days.
    Elias Manza, chairman of the Zango Kataf local government area in Kaduna state, told CNN that the region had been targeted by militants in at least three separate attacks across the last month, killing at least 27 people.
    "The shots came in from four different locations," Bala recalled of the incident which happened in the Zikpak village, a semi-urban agrarian village in southern Kaduna, Nigeria.
    "Everybody in the community was running to the farms and forest. I saw two of the shooters, they wore black all over," Bala, a farmer told CNN.
    Bala's wife, who had delivered a baby just two days earlier, ran into the forest with the baby to keep safe, he said.

    'Shot in the back'

    Ten people in total died in the Zikpak attack on July 24. The youngest victim was a 5-year-old boy named Joel Cephas, officials said.
    One of those who died in Friday's attack was Bala's uncle, Luka Takum, who he says was shot in the back as he fled the attackers. He was a retired railway worker popularly known as Baba Odiyaga.
    "They burnt his house and he was slaughtered like a goat," Bala said.
    A burnt vehicle belonging to one of the victims of the July 24 attack on the Zikpak community in northern Nigeria.
    Another of the victims was an 65-year-old woman known as Cecelia Auta, a teacher who was killed alongside her cousin, Didam Amadi, a retired soldier and the father of a prominent local musician Joel Amadi.
    "They first shot my father in the back and then shot him three more times in the head, the killers were putting on (military) camouflage, they spent more two hours in the village," Amadi told CNN.

    Mass burials

    Mass burials were arranged for the victims, who join scores of people killed in attacks in this northwestern Nigerian region, since January this year.
    The sporadic attacks have gripped the region since January and caused the displacement of hundreds of residents, according to human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has a base in Kaduna.
    According to CSW, the attackers attempted to burn down a local church, but did not succeed as the flames were extinguished by falling rain.
    "At least 27 people were killed within a 24-hour period between 19 and 20 July in attacks by armed assailants of Fulani ethnicity on communities in southern Kaduna state," CSW said.
    "The attacks are a part of a campaign of violence targeting communities in southern Kaduna which has been ongoing since January 2020, and is characterised by murder, looting, rape, abductions for ransom and forced displacement," the group added.