200 people killed over the weekend in Nigeria
Local government imposes curfew following apparently retaliatory attacks.
At least two hundred people have been killed in attacks by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police have said.
Sunday’s discovery in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
The state police commissioner, Undie Adie, said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found 86 people had been killed, but a separate report by residents of the states put the figure at at least 200 people after body counts made independently in different parts of the areas.
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence – fuelled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances – has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing insurgency by the Boko Haram Islamist group in the country’s north-east that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos South areas and 6pm to 6am curfew to “avert a breakdown of law and order”.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim”, according to those who escaped the violence.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
On Thursday, Berom farmers attacked five ethnic Fulani herders travelling with their cattle in a truck at Heipang, in Barkin Ladi.
Police spokesman Terna said: “We recorded a crime in Heipang, which I can describe as arson and kidnapping. We are searching for the five victims because we have not seen any corpses.”
On Friday, two Berom children were killed in Arangai and Mangu Halle villages in what appeared to be reprisal attacks.
Terna said there were more reprisals on Berom villages in the Gashish area of Barkin Ladi, which were “believed to have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen”. “This led to today’s violence,” he added.
Separately, there were clashes on Friday between Fulani herders and ethnic Bachama farmers in Dowayan village, in the Demsa area of Adamawa state, in north-east Nigeria.
Adamawa police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP: “Six people were killed and seven others injured.
“The violence started when Bachama farmers prevented Fulani herdsmen from grazing in a field outside the village. Clashes erupted as a result.
“The Bachama mobilised and burnt some Fulani settlements and the Fulani went into Dowayan and burnt houses.”
Buhari, who has been accused of failing to act as he is also Muslim and Fulani, and his government have proposed setting up cattle ranches to prevent tensions over grazing land.
SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Muhammed Dada/The Guardian, UK