Armed groups kill 113 in spate of attacks across central Nigeria

A group of armed men known as 'bandits' staged a succession of attacks in central Nigeria, killing more than 100 people and injuring over 300.

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FILE PHOTO: Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu speaks after his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2023. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja/File Photo

Local officials say the attacks targeted at least 20 communities in the Plateau State region. The death toll of the weekend assaults sharply increased from the government’s initial score of 16. “As many as 113 persons have been confirmed killed as Saturday hostilities persisted to early hours of Monday,” Monday Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos in Plateau State, confirmed to the Agence France Presse news agency.

Kassah says, “These well-coordinated attacks persisted from Saturday to the early hours of Monday.” He did not say who was behind the attacks, but reiterated that the government had to take affirmative steps before other assaults were visited upon innocent civilians. Gyang Bere, a spokesperson for Plateau Governor Caleb Mutfwang, reaffirmed the determination to stop such attacks.

The warmer climate in northern Nigeria’s Middle Belt, including the vast Plateau State, which has allowed for the expansion of agriculture is also a factor of intercommunal conflict despite conflict between Muslim herders and Christian farmers. As conflicts have increased over land ownership, disputes, also over water rights, have gradually become more heated, with recurring waves of intercommunal violence that have claimed hundreds of lives.

Hundreds have been killed in intercommunal violence that has torn through the region many times.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has said that the Nigerian authorities have failed to stop these frequent deadly attacks on rural communities in Plateau state. In the country’s northern and central areas, fighting continues and active armed groups are in evidence, while there are also reports of abuses by government forces.

This month, President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation into a military drone strike which killed 85 civilians who had gathered for a religious festival. Tinubu said it was a bombing mishap and expressed concern; Kaduna Governor Uba Sani said this was because the drone had been launched to bomb “terrorists and bandits” (by which they mean Fulani herders), but accidentally killed civilians instead.

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