Central Nigeria ethnic violence kills at least 28

June 28, 2013 - 12:58:53 pm
JOS, Nigeria: Gunmen have raided three villages in ethnically divided central Nigeria, leaving at least 28 people dead in what appeared to be reprisal attacks linked to cattle theft, the military said Friday.



"Villages attacked were Karkashi, Bolgang and Magama," Captain Salisu Mustapha, spokesman for a military task force in the region, told AFP. "Twenty-eight locals lost their lives."



Nigerian media quoted a local official saying more than 100 homes were also burnt, but the information could not be immediately confirmed.



Residents said the attacks on Thursday followed incidents of cattle rustling.



Herdsmen suspected to be from the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group were suspected to be behind the raids on the villages populated by the mainly Christian Taroks.



Cattle rustling often sets off violence in the region, located in the so-called Middle Belt of Africa's most populous nation dividing the mainly Muslim north from the predominately Christian south.



The villages are located in the remote Langtang area of Nigeria's Plateau state.



Herdsmen from the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group were suspected to be behind the raids on the villages populated by the mainly Christian Taroks.



Thousands have been killed in Nigeria's central region in recent years in clashes between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups in a struggle for access to land or local power.



Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, mainly based in the country's northeast, has occasionally carried out violence in the Middle Belt as well, but there was no sign of any link in Thursday's violence.



Nigeria's military is currently engaged in an offensive in the northeast seeking to end Boko Haram's four-year insurgency.



The country includes some 250 ethnic groups, and illegal weapons are widespread. Authorities have been largely unable to stop such violent flare-ups. (AFP)



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