Nigeria cattle rustling feud leaves more than 30 dead

Community leaders say men believed to be Fulani herdsmen attacked Tarok farmers in reprisal for cattle thefts in country's Plateau state

Nigerian community leaders said that more than 30 people have died and many have been injured in tribal clashes sparked by cattle rustling in the country's volatile central Plateau state.

Narman Darko, a committee chairman in the Langtang South area said men believed to be Fulani herdsmen attacked Tarok farmers in reprisal for thefts of hundreds of cattle. Capt Salisu Mustapha, a military spokesman said that security forces had responded to the attack, killing 20 men.

A witness said that 32 people were killed and more than a hundred houses destroyed in three villages. In one village, he said, more than 20 dead bodies had been found.

"We woke up this morning to the sad reality of attacks from arms-carrying men who invaded three villages killing people and burning houses," Langtang South resident Solomon Dalong told Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper.

He said the attacks had inflicted "colossal destruction" on the communities.

Although disputes over grazing rights and property in the remote region, about 150 miles from the state capital Jos, are not uncommon, it is unusual for them to result in this level of carnage.

Salihu Jauro, a Fulani community leader, denied the attackers were Fulani but said his people were angry about the theft of cows by members of the Tarok tribe. The Fulani are Muslim and the Taroks Christian but clashes in the region tend to be due to a complex mix of religion, tribe, politics and land rights. Thousands have been killed since 1999.

Mr Jauro told the BBC that despite repeated complaints to authorities about the theft of about 1,000 cattle earlier in the week, there had been no help. He said that 500 had been recovered by the community but the rest were still missing.

Capt Mustapha added that five people had died in similar clashes last week in Wase district, 60 miles from Jos.

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