115 killed in central Nigeria in internecine clashes

Abuja: Spiraling ethnic violence has claimed over 100 lives, including that of two lawmakers, over the past two days in central Nigeria where herdsmen from the Fulani tribe raided Christian villages prompting violent clashes between rival tribes. At least 115 people have been killed in horrifying violence since Saturday near the conflict-prone Jos city, forcing authorities to clamp a curfew.

With no let up in violence, two lawmakers — a federal senator and a state parliamentarian — were killed, and a House of Representatives member narrowly escaped on Sunday. The lawmakers were attending a funeral service of 63 people who were killed on Saturday in Karkuruk village in Barkin Ladi local government area when the assailants returned with guns and machetes to launch another attack.

Senator Gyang Dantong, and Gyang Fulani, a representative of the constituency in the state House of Assembly were the two lawmakers who were killed. House of Representatives member Simon Mwadkom was wounded and was rushed to a hospital in an unconscious state. Villagers said gunmen descended from the hills at Matse as they were conducting the burial and closed in on them.

After the attack on funeral attendees, some 50 bodies were also discovered burnt in the house of a pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in the village. The discovery of the bodies brought the total number of deaths since yesterday to 115 including that of the lawmakers. Police spokesman in the state Emmanuel Abu, confirmed the development but said "I have no details yet on how they were killed".

Immediately after the news filtered out, youth blocked the Jos?Abuja highway, burning tyres, and firing gunshots. The police evacuated women and children and older people from the villages for fear of another attack by rival tribesmen. Earlier in the day, Fulani tribesmen raided villages dominated by the Berom tribe and subsequent clashes between military in the area and the militants claimed over 30 lives, including that of 21 gunmen.

According to the Red Cross and a civil society group, 100 persons were displaced in 13 villages. Earlier in May, seven persons were killed when gunmen attacked the village of Tahoss near Jos setting fire to a home. Two churches, an Islamic school and 20 other buildings were burnt down in clashes that erupted after the killing of three youths of ethnic Berom tribe by Fulani herdsmen.

The Beroms went about carrying reprisal attacks that resulted in the killing of four Fulanis, and this sparked an internecine hostility between the two ethnic groups. Hundreds of people have died in the tribe rivalry, involving ethnic Fulanis and Beroms in Jos and areas around it. Sometimes the clashes take religious colour, given the fact that a majority of the Fulanis are Muslims while the Beroms are mostly Christians.