Day of intercommunal clashes kills 55 in NigeriaThu, 25 Jan 2024 19:31:08 GMT

Fifty-five people died in a day of renewed violence in Nigeria’s north-central Plateau State where clashes between Muslim herders and Christian farming communities erupted, according to community leaders and a Red Cross report on Thursday.Despite a 24-hour curfew imposed on Tuesday in Plateau’s troubled Mangu local district, schools, places of worship and homes were burned and ransacked in further attacks through the day into Wednesday, community leaders said.Plateau, which lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, is a flashpoint for violence. But tensions have soared since nearly 200 people were killed over Christmas in raids on mostly Christian villages.On Thursday, the Mwaghavul Development Association, an organisation for ethnic Mwaghavul people who are mostly Christians, blamed Fulani Muslim herders for attacking Kwahaslalek village on Tuesday, killing around 30 people.”At the moment, our people are left at the mercy of God and the little they can do in self defence,” the association said in a statement.More attacks took place in and around nearby Mangu town centre during the curfew lockdown, with schools and homes assaulted.Jafaru Musa, chairman of a local chapter of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), a Muslim community organisation, said they had reported another 25 dead.”Many of our people have been killed,” he said, counting 25 bodies at the mosque before the military secured them to bury the dead.The JNI secretary for Plateau State, Salim Musa, also said: “Twenty-five Muslims have so far been confirmed killed.”A Nigeria Red Cross report seen by AFP recorded a total of 55 deaths and more than 100 wounded in the attacks. More than 250 homes had been burned.”Everywhere is now calm, military presence is all over the place,” local resident Yusuf Abdullashi said.- Displaced camps -The curfew was still being enforced. But the police and army did not respond to repeated requests for confirmation of deaths from the most recent clashes.Police did show journalists 17 arrested suspects of taking part in the Christmas attacks and some in the recent violence.”The area remains highly secured by security forces,”  Assistant Inspector General Ebong Eyibio told reporters.   Two camps for those displaced by fighting have been set up in Mangu town, for about 1,500 people, local chairman of the Nigeria Red Cross Nurudeen Husaini Magaji told AFP.Plateau’s governor announced the curfew on Tuesday after another clash that officials blamed on a dispute between a herder moving his cattle and residents using the road.Clashes in Nigeria’s northwest and north-central states have their roots in community tensions over land and resources between nomadic herders and pastoral farmers.But tit-for-tat revenge attacks have spiralled into broader criminality.Heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits raid villages especially in the northwest states, looting and kidnapping for ransom.Rural villages often form self-defence vigilante groups to protect themselves from raids.President Bola Ahmed Tinubu says improving security is a priority as he seeks to attract more foreign investment in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy.