At least 20 people, mostly women and children, were killed and several houses burned by gunmen in a village in Plateau State, residents and a state official said on Tuesday, in the latest communal violence in the region.
Plateau is one of several ethnically and religiously diverse hinterland states known as Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where violent conflicts between farmers and semi-nomadic herders have claimed the lives of hundreds of people.
Residents said the attackers arrived in Kubat village in the state’s Mangu local government district in the early hours of Tuesday.
Jeremiah Samson, who witnessed the attack, said the gunmen started shooting sporadically and when some residents tried to flee, they were shot and killed.
It was not clear who was responsible for the attack.
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Plateau governor Simon Lalong directed security forces in the state to pursue the attackers, the state spokesperson Makut Macham said without confirming the number of casualties.
The Middle Belt violence is often painted as ethno-religious conflict between Muslim Fulani herders clashing with mainly Christian farmers.
But many experts and politicians say climate change and expanding agriculture are creating competition for land that is pushing the farmers and herders into constant conflict, regardless of faith or ethnicity.
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