Local police said the attack on the villagers took place over the weekend and was in retaliation for the earlier killing of a herdsman.
About a dozen villages in Nasarawa state were said to have been attacked and 5,000 people were forced to flee their homes, according to a spokesperson for the ethnic farmers group. Local data on the number of deaths varied from 8 to 20, but according to President Muhammadu Buhari, up to 45 people were killed.
Bukhari says that his government “will direct every stone to apprehend the perpetrators of this barbaric and senseless event and hold them accountable.”
Local police said both the army and police were patrolling the area to restore calm and arrest the perpetrators.
Fatal clashes between Muslim herders, who live as nomads, and are mostly Christian farmers, are common in central Nigeria.
The roots of the conflict stretch back more than a hundred years and apply to grazing and water resources, where the contradictions stem from drought, population growth, the expansion of agriculture on common lands, and the absence of governance.
Among the nomadic herders are criminal gangs who loot and burn villages, exacerbating the situation.
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