At least 22 dead in central Nigeria attack

2014-02-07 08:44

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Jos - At least 22 people were killed in a raid in restive central Nigeria on Thursday, locals said, in the second such attack in the area this week.

Gunmen opened fire in the predominantly Muslim village of Mavo in the Wase local government area of Plateau state at about 02:00 in an apparent warning, witnesses said.

Security forces in the area went to investigate and the gunmen returned in the early afternoon, shooting villagers and burning houses.

"The attackers came to the village in their hundreds and started shooting sporadically. I counted 22 persons who were already dead. Over 10 houses were also burnt," said local resident Nangak Bako.

It was unclear who carried out the attack but on Tuesday, about 30 people were killed in two mainly Christian villages in the nearby Riyom district in a similar raid and more than 50 houses burnt.

The interim administrator of Wase council, Zakari Haruna, and state police both confirmed the attack but neither gave a casualty figure. There was no immediate comment from the military.

Plateau state has a long history of ethnic and religious violence between Hausa-speaking Muslim Fulani herdsman and Christian groups.

The state lies in Nigeria's so-called Middle Belt, where the majority Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south.

More than 10 000 people are thought to have died in tit-for-tat violence in Plateau and neighbouring Kaduna state since 1992, Human Rights Watch said in December last year.

Other causes include perceived favouritism or discrimination on the part of the local authorities towards the two groups.

Read more on:    hrw  |  nigeria  |  west africa
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