Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen have killed at least five people in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, police said Saturday, in the latest violence linked to tensions over grazing rights.
Thursday’s attack happened just as President Muhammadu Buhari was rounding up a tour of Plateau and four other flashpoint states.
“The gunmen were believed to be herdsmen. They attacked some communities in Miango district and killed five people,” state police spokesman Terna Tyopev told AFP.
He said dozens of people were injured while many houses and properties were destroyed in the mayhem.
Local media said apart from the incident in Miango, six people were also killed at Ganda village in Bokkos local government area of the state.
The police could not immediately confirm the attack.
Speaking to Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper, community leader, Matawa Mankut put the toll at six dead when cattle rearers invaded the village on Friday.
“We are at the burial ground in Ganda village to give the deceased a mass burial,” he said, urging the authorities to end the violence.
Since the start of the year, Nigeria has seen a growing number of clashes between largely nomadic herders and farmers over land, water and grazing rights.
Buhari has been under pressure to end the killings.
Plateau state lies in Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt that separates the predominantly Muslim north from the largely Christian south.
It has long been a hotbed of ethnic, sectarian and religious tensions between indigenous farming communities, who are mainly Christian, and the nomadic Hausa/Fulani cattle herders, who are Muslim.
Tensions have boiled over access to land and resources, escalating into a rift that has deepened along nominally religious lines.
In January, eight people were killed in tit-for-tat attacks in the rural districts of Bokkos and Bassa of the state.