ABUJA (Reuters) – Attackers shot dead at least 36 people and destroyed buildings in a night raid on a village near the central Nigerian city of Jos, officials said, in an area hit by repeated ethnic clashes.
The gunmen went house to house killing residents in Yelwa Zangam late on Tuesday, a military spokesman said. Troops struggled to get to the area as a bridge had been destroyed, he added.
Jos is the capital of Plateau State – part of Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt which has seen regular fighting between the Hausa-Fulani group, who dominate the whole of northern Nigeria, and a number of much smaller local ethnic groups.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong described the attack as a “barbaric act”, and said security forces had arrested 10 suspects and were pursuing others.
He said he was reinstating a 24-hour curfew on the surrounding area to prevent further loss of life and property. Authorities had only recently relaxed a curfew imposed after attackers killed 22 commuters in the same area on Aug 14.
One local resident said the attackers were Fulanis from a nearby area involved in a feud with the Yelwa Zangam community. Reuters could not independently verify this.
A registrar at a hospital in Jos told Reuters that 36 bodies had been brought in from the village.
The whole of Nigeria has been experiencing an upsurge of violence this year, with abductions for ransom and armed robberies commonplace in several states.
The underlying cause of much of the tension is poverty which intensifies competition for resources and jobs and, in the Middle Belt, exacerbates a complex inter-section of ethnic and religious rivalries.
The Hausa-Fulani, who number tens of millions across Nigeria and are mostly Muslim, are seen as a threat by some of the smaller Middle Belt groups, who are predominantly Christian.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi and Maiduguri newsroom, writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Andrew Heavens)