At least 86 killed in more violent attacks by Fulani herdsmen on Christian villages
Nigeria’s government late last Sunday announced “deeply unfortunate killings across a number of communities” in central Plateau State but did not give a death toll. However, a Plateau State police spokesman, Mathias Tyopev, said 86 people had been killed and at least 50 houses destroyed in the violence that appeared to have started overnight between mostly Muslim herders and Christian farmers.
While few details emerged from official sources about this latest massacre, Nigerians began sharing the dreadful news on social media early on Sunday. Plateau State governor, Simon BakoLalong, announced a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew after saying he had woken up to the “shocking news” of the attacks. The curfew affects the communities of Jos South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi “and is in effect until further notice.” He also posted a series of messages on Twitter about “this horrible situation.”
President MuhammaduBuhari appealed for calm as the military and police tried to end the bloodshed, and said “no efforts will be spared” to find the attackers and prevent reprisal attacks. Last May, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja had called on Buhari to do more to end the violence and bring the perpetrators to justice:
“We remind you that the rampaging squads of terrorist herdsmen who have turned Nigeria into a killing field seem to be above the law,” Onaiyekan said. “We have not heard of any arrests or prosecution of these murderers, who continue to amuse themselves with the blood of innocent Nigerians.Mr. President, when will the killings end? The clock is ticking, and the bomb must be defused quickly.”
As national elections approach next year, widespread security issues regarding the Fulani and Boko Haram pose a major challenge to Buhari, a Muslim former military ruler who won office in a democratic transfer of power in 2015,
Nigeria is roughly split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. In the past few years, tension has been growing in central Nigeria as Fulani herdsmen suffering from the effects of climate change are forced south into more populated farming communities in search of suitable grazing for their cattle. This has resulted in violent clashes between mainly Muslim herders and Christian farmers in central Nigeria, which some reports say have been as deadly as the Boko Haram extremist insurgency.