Wednesday 26 September 2018

More than 200 people killed in central Nigeria during weekend clashes

The violence has become more deadly than the Boko Haram insurgency, according to some reports.

A woman stands near her relative as he receives treatment at the Jos University teaching hospital in Jos (AP)
A woman stands near her relative as he receives treatment at the Jos University teaching hospital in Jos (AP)

By Sam Olukoya

More than 200 people died in weekend clashes in central Nigeria between farmers and herders after attacks by “suspected militia herdsmen”, the governor of Plateau State has said.

Simon Lalong spoke during a visit by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari after military, police and counter-terror units were sent to end the bloodshed in one of the deadliest such confrontations this year. Police had put the death toll at 86 on Sunday night.

The clashes between herders and farmers over resources are a growing security concern in Africa’s most populous country, which is roughly split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

By some accounts the fighting has become more deadly than Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremist insurgency.

Mr Lalong said authorities are concerned about the use of sophisticated weapons in the latest attacks, calling them “reflective of a terrorist invasion”.

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The violence is said to have outstripped that seen during the Boko Haram insurgency (AP)

Security is a major issue for Mr Buhari, a Muslim former military ruler who won office in a democratic transfer of power in 2015, ahead of next year’s elections.

The threat from Boko Haram, which continues to carry out attacks in the north-east, has been cited as a cause of the growing tensions.

Herders in search of safe grazing land, and feeling the effects of climate change, have been forced south into more populated farming communities.

The latest clashes began when about 100 cattle were rustled and some herders were killed, Mr Buhari’s office said. The president accused unnamed politicians of taking advantage of the chaos ahead of the elections, calling it “incredibly unfortunate”.

Dramatic footage from Jos over the weekend showed angry people waving machetes and sticks and shouting at passing security forces as they weaved around overturned and burning vehicles.

Smoke rose in the distance. Women and children clutching overstuffed bags piled into the back of trucks, seeking a way out.

Mr Buhari has warned against reprisal attacks.

Press Association

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