Gunmen believed to be nomadic Fulani herdsmen have killed scores of villagers in central Nigeria’s Benue State in a long-running conflict over grazing rights, the state government said on Monday.
“The magnitude of killings is enormous. Scores of people were killed in the past two weeks by Fulani herdsmen in at least 10 local government areas of the state,” spokesman Tahav Agerzua told AFP.
The state government was collaborating with security agencies to contain the violence, which is the latest flare-up between local farmers and the herders in the state.
Benue state police spokesman Moses Yamu confirmed the killings but said the affected communities had returned to normal.
“It’s not a recent development. The clashes happened last month and we are on top of the situation,” he said.
Nigeria’s Channels television put the number of dead at 81 in the past two weeks after attacks on farming villages in the Logo and Ukum areas of the state.
The mainly Muslim Fulani herders and largely Christian farmers have clashed for decades over increasingly scarce land and resources, particularly in the religiously mixed central states.
In February, hundreds of people were said to have been killed and about 1,000 homes destroyed in the Agatu area of Benue in a wave of attacks blamed on Fulani.