A group of unknown gunmen in a car and on motorbikes broke into the family's house yesterday in Unguwar Kajit, a village in the mainly Christian part of southern Kaduna state, and opened fire. (Agencies)
There have been similar attacks in the area in the past, notably after the last presidential election in 2011, in which southern Christian Goodluck Jonathan beat northern Muslim Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari's supporters claimed the vote was rigged and their protests quickly descended into sectarian and ethnic violence.
Speaking about the latest attack, youth leader Emmanuel Zadiok said, “The gunmen came in the middle of the night and forced their way into a home and shot dead all the seven members of a Christian family. Christian youth provoked by the attack, which they blamed on Fulani Muslims, mobilised and launched reprisal attacks, burning mosques and houses.”
Mohammed Yakub, a Muslim resident, confirmed the killing and said one person died when three mosques and several homes were burnt in the reprisals.
"On Friday morning an irate crowd of Christian youth went on rampage and attacked Muslims, burning homes and mosques, accusing (them) of the killings. One person was burnt alive in one of the three mosques," he added.
Kaduna state governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero visited the village, said his spokesman Ahmed Maiyaki. Yero ‘condemned the attack and prayed that God should expose the perpetrators’, he added.
An investigation has been launched to find the attackers and the governor vowed to boost security by using local vigilante groups to prevent any repeat.
After the 2011 violence, Human Rights Watch estimated that more than 500 people, most of them Muslim, had been killed in southern Kaduna in three days of rioting that gripped the Muslim-majority north.
A group of unknown gunmen in a car and on motorbikes broke into the family's house yesterday in Unguwar Kajit, a village in the mainly Christian part of southern Kaduna state, and opened fire.