Eighteen people, including two policemen, have been killed in communal violence between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria’s central Benue state, officials said Thursday.
The violence broke out early Wednesday. Herders stormed the farming village of Gbeji in Ukum district, firing indiscriminately, said Paul Hemba, security adviser to the Benue state governor.
Disputes between cattle herders and farmers over land, grazing and water rights are common in central and northwestern Nigeria.
“According to the latest report I received, 18 people were killed in the attack, two policemen and 16 villagers,” Mr Hemba said.
Several others were injured and hospitaliZed.
The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Wale Abbas, said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of five Fulani herdsmen by local residents.
“The crisis erupted on Tuesday when five Fulani herdsmen were attacked and killed in three separate incidents and their cows were stolen,” he said.
Mr Abbas put the death toll at less than 10, including a policeman, residents and herders.
“The dead policeman was hit by a stray bullet and died on the way to the hospital,” Abbas said.
Tensions between communities sometimes take on ethnic and religious dimensions in Nigeria, which has dozens of ethnic groups and is divided between the predominantly Christian south and the predominantly Muslim north.
AMN Reporters | AFP