Dozens dead as more violence hits central Nigeria

Three more villages in Nigeria's central Plateau State came under deadly attack yesterday as Fulani herdsmen continued their killing spree in the country's volatile Middle Belt.

The violence, this time in Bassa Local Government Area, has claimed some 57 lives over the last two weeks alone, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).

The assailants reportedly stormed the villages of Maifarin-Mota, Rafiki and Dung at around 6:30am, shooting at random and causing panic among residents who fled.

World Watch Monitor

WWM reported that around 10 people are missing and that many properties including a church and 20 houses were set on fire.

An army spokesman, Major Umar Adams, confirmed the attack to WWM, who reported speculation that the attack was triggered by the arrest on Tuesday (March 13) of four Fulanis with AK-47s, who were taken to the police headquarters in Jos, the state capital.

Meanwhile, WWM said that at least 25 others were killed in an attack on Dundu village, in the Kwal District of the same Bassa LGA.

The assailants are said to have raided the community for several hours. The 25 known victims were buried in a mass grave in the village, while the search continues for those killed in the surrounding bush, WWM said.

Last week, president Muhammadu Buhari visited Plateau to launch the state's 'Roadmap to Peace'.

But while the president was still in the state, the Fulani attacked two of its LGAs – Bassa and Bokkos – killing at least 32 people, WWM reported.

On March 9, on the second day of the president's visit, the Fulani attacked again, killing four schoolchildren in their sleep in another Bassa village called Laake, part of Kwall District, WWM reported.

That same day, there were also attacks in other villages including Nghakudung, Morok, Hottom, and Wareng – all in Bokkos – killing another 13 people.

The attacks come after at least 75 people were killed in a string of attacks by Fulani herdsmen on the predominantly Christian community of Miango, also in Bassa, in January.

Some 14 villages were targeted, with 89 houses set on fire and vast swathes of farmland destroyed by the assailants, who vowed to dislodge the natives.

Christian leaders have frequently accused president Buhari of not doing enough to deal with the Fulani violence, WWM noted.

On February 8, a delegation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria expressed their concerns to President Buhari, saying the attacks were being carried out by 'terrorists masquerading as herdsmen' and accused the government of being 'incapable or unwilling' to protect citizens from them.