12th July, 2012
Gunmen who stormed a village and torched dozens of houses in central Nigeria have displaced roughly 200 people after weekend attacks that left more than 100 dead, police and an official said on Wednesday.
The latest violence in Nigeria’s troubled Plateau state was blamed on Fulani herdsmen, a majority Muslim pastoralist group said to have carried out the two weekend attacks in the same area.
“More than 40 houses were razed down and all the people have been displaced,” the governor’s spokesman Pam Ayuba told AFP, who said the Fulani were also responsible for the raid late Tuesday. No deaths were reported.
“Some 200 people were displaced.”
A police source in the state who requested anonymity confirmed the account, but a military spokesman downplayed the scale of the incident.
“Yesterday evening there was an attack, not really an attack actually, just some hoodlums who burned some houses,” Captain Salihu Mustapha of the military’s State Task Force (STF) told AFP.
Ayuba voiced frustration at the military’s response to the running violence in the area, where gunmen killed more than 80 people on Saturday during raids on several villages.
At least 22 people, including two senior politicians, were killed on Sunday during an attack at a funeral for the victims of the previous day’s violence.
“I don’t know why they (the military) are being so economical about the truth of what is happening on the ground,” Ayuba said.
“We have always wondered about the security that the government is providing… We no longer feel very secure. We are completely being targeted for elimination from our land,” he added.
Plateau state falls in Nigeria’s so-called “Middle Belt,” where the mainly Christian south meets the majority Muslim north and the area has been plagued by several concurrent conflicts.
The Fulani Hausa-Muslims are seen as “settlers” bent on seizing more territory by some members of the indigenous Christian groups who hold political power in the state.
Fulani representatives counter that the pastoralists have been discriminated against and stripped of grazing areas vital to their welfare.
The Boko Haram Islamist group that has carried out scores of attacks across northern and central Nigeria since the middle of 2009 has also struck in the Plateau.
A curfew in four areas imposed after the weekend violence has since been relaxed, with residents now confined to their homes from dusk-to-dawn, Ayuba said.