At least 86 people have been killed in clashes over the past days between herdsmen and farmers in central Nigeria, prompting local officials to impose a curfew to contain the fresh wave of communal violence there.
Police announced the number of fatalities on Sunday after men suspected to be nomadic Fulani herdsmen attacked farming communities in the Barikin Ladi area of Nigeria’s Plateau State.
Violence had initially broken out in the region on Thursday, when ethnic Berom farmers launched an attack against Fulani herders. A day later, two Berom children were killed in Arangai and Mangu Halle villages in what appeared to be reprisal attacks.
The clashes continued into the weekend, according to state police commissioner Undie Adie, who said a search of the villages hit by violence showed “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Some 50 houses were also razed, Adie told reporters, adding that the victims’ bodies had been handed over to their families.
In the wake of the bloodshed, security officials in Nigeria’s Plateau State imposed on Sunday night a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the region.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari’s office said he “appeals for calm and assures that no efforts will be spared” to bring those responsible to justice and prevent further violence.
“The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau today is painful and regrettable,” he added.
Such instances of violence, which are rooted in communal disputes over land and resources, have claimed thousands of lives in central Nigeria over the past several decades.
The Buhari government has come under scrutiny for failing to end the hostilities between the two communities.
The dispute between farmers and herdsmen has become one of the gravest security threats to Nigeria, which is already grappling with a terror campaign in the northeast by Daesh-affiliated Boko Haram militants.
Boko Haram militancy has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.