Lagos, Nigeria - At least 30 people were killed, 25 other injured and 40 houses burnt in Nigeria's volatile northern state of Plateau, when gunmen numbering over 100 attacked a village in Shonog in Riyom Local Government Area of the state, the local Punch newspaper reported Tuesday, citing eyewitnesses.
The attackers, believed to be Muslim Hausa/Fulani herdsmen who have been clashing incessantly with the largely Christian farmers in the state, invaded the town as early as 7 a.m., when most men have gone to their farms.
They shot indiscriminately at the villagers, killing mostly women and children.
The paper quoted Mark Lipido, head of a local Non-Governmental Organization in the state - Stefanos Foundation - as saying the number of those killed could be more than 30, since many villagers who sustained gunshot wounds ran into the bushes near the village.
“Information just reaching us says Fulani herdsmen attacked Bachit, Shorong in Riyom LGA. Sources said over 30 bodies were seen in some parts of the community, including the bushes. The villagers are presently watching helplessly as soldiers have taken no action because they said they have not been given order to take action,” he said.
The attack took place despite the presence in the area of soldiers of the military Special Task Force, deployed to keep the peace in the state
The Spokesman for the task force, Capt. Salisu Mustapha, said the large number of the attackers delayed the soldier's response.
“The soldiers had to call for reinforcement as the attackers came in large numbers,” Mustapha said, He said only six people were confirmed killed and five others wounded.
The recurrent ethno-religious clashes in the state, which has killed thousands over the years, is believed to be fuelled by the fierce contest for natural resources by the two groups.
While the herdsmen, who are believed to have migrated to the state a long time ago, need grazing ground and water for their cattle, the farmers need the same resources to sustain their livelihood.