At least 16 people were killed in inter-ethnic violent clashes in Nigeria’s central federal district of Benue state, police officials confirmed on Tuesday.
According to reports, the victims are said to belong to the Tiv community and the onslaught had begun when attackers suspected to be from a rival ethnic group stormed the remote community, burning homes and killing locals.
Residents of the Tiv community reported far higher death toll numbers, putting the number of people killed in the clash at 45, including women and children, while local media put the death toll at 30.
Police spokesman Ejike Alaribe told press agencies that the “precise number of people that were killed were 16,” adding that the assailants had “opened fire sporadically, started shooting everywhere and started burning houses”.
Joseph Mom, a representative of the Tiv community, a farming tribe native to the region, blamed the attack on the Fulani people, a nomad tribe of herdsmen.
There have been violent outbursts between the two groups in the past. However, Mom says the “situation has changed during the last few months. The Fulani come down from the north, heavily armed, seeking pastures for their cattle and attack anybody that objects.”
Joseph called on government officials to provide protection for the locals.
Attempts to quell the conflict between both tribes have failed in the past. Police officials say they are on ground now to monitor the situation and ensure peace for the time being.