6th April, 2014
The death toll in an attack by Fulani herdsmen on a village in northern Nigeria’s Zamfara State rose to 79 from 30, a government spokesman said Sunday.
“The governor and other officials were today at Yar Galadima village where they participated in the burial of 79 people killed in the attack by cattle rustlers,” Nuhu Salihu Anka said.
Gunmen believed to be Fulani herdsmen had stormed a meeting in Galadima yesterday.
Zamfara state police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi had put the death toll at 30, with many injured. He apparently underestimated the number of the dead as survivors estimated the dead at 60.
“The incident happened in Galadima yesterday during a meeting of community leaders and representatives of vigilante groups” who were discussing ways to thwart armed robbers and cattle rustlers, he said.
He said security forces have been deployed to the area.
“We counted 61 bodies from the scene of the attack last night, while many people were wounded,” a survivor who gave his name only as Babaginda from neighbouring Kaduna state said.
He said he was lucky to escape and implored the security forces to stem incessant attacks by Fulani rustlers on villages in the area.
The conflict between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers over land rights, particularly in central Nigeria, has persisted for more than a decade despite a series of peace efforts across several states.
Last month, some 100 people were killed in Kaduna state when assailants armed with guns and machetes attacked local farming villages.
Fulani leaders have for years complained about the loss of grazing land crucial to their livelihood, and resentment between the herdsmen and their agrarian neighbours has risen over the past decade.
Under Nigerian law, indigenous people have enhanced rights in their home areas, including preferential access to public education and jobs.
The Fulani claimed they have been systematically disenfranchised. The disputes vary from state to state and often have a religious element, especially in areas where farmers are predominantly Christian.