Nigerian president urges calm after herdsmen kill 19 in central Plateau state

Reuters, AFP
Sat, 2017-09-09 13:31

ABUJA: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari appealed for calm and an end to communal violence on Saturday after police said armed herdsmen killed 19 people in the central state of Plateau.
Local police said Fulani herdsmen attacked Ancha village, in the Bassa local government area of Plateau state, in the early hours of Friday. They said it was thought to be a reprisal attack after a boy from the herding community was killed.
Police provided details of the attack, in which five people were injured, late on Friday.
Fighting between semi-nomadic cattle herders and more settled communities over land use claims hundreds of lives a year in Nigeria’s central and northern states.
“I urge all our communities in the state and the other parts of the country to embrace peace and bring to a stop these painful and unnecessary killings,” said Buhari, in an e-mailed statement.
He said communities and security agencies in Plateau had taken steps to “pull the state back from the brink of anarchy and senseless killings,” adding that it would be “a painful loss to allow these unsavoury acts to return.”
The violence is another security challenge for Buhari in addition to the eight-year Boko Haram nsurgency in the northeast and attempts to maintain a fragile cease-fire in the southern Niger Delta energy hub where militant attacks on oil facilities last year cut crude production by more than a third.
Also on Saturday, militia members and residents said at least seven people were killed when Boko Haram terrorists attacked a camp for people displaced by the conflict in northeast Nigeria.
The attack on Friday evening in Ngala, near the border with Cameroon, came as two people were killed in an explosion outside another camp in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
In Ngala, a civilian militia member, Umar Kachalla, said terrorists in two pick-up trucks fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the camp, which houses some 80,000 people.
“They (Boko Haram) fired an RPG into the camp from behind the fire fence, killing seven people and injuring several others,” he told AFP from the neighboring town of Gamboru.
The attack, which happened at about 8 p.m. (19:00 GMT), was followed by sustained gunfire as the jihadists drove away into the darkness, he added.
Ngala resident Abubakar Yusuf, who corroborated Kachalla’s account, said: “The casualties were relatively minimal because most people had retired for the night.”
The camp in Ngala was set up in January last year after the return of thousands of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon, where they had fled the fighting.
Boko Haram seized the trading hubs of Gamboru and Ngala in August 2014, during the group’s rapid seizure of territory across Borno state and the wider northeast.
Nigerian troops retook both towns in September 2015 with the help of Chadian forces.
But despite the recapture of the area, Boko Haram fighters still launch sporadic attacks, laying ambush to troops and vehicles as well as attacking and abducting farmers.
Nigeria’s military and government maintains the Daesh affiliate is a spent force but continued attacks underlines the lingering threat, particularly to civilians.
Eight farmers were killed in a series of raids on farming communities on Wednesday and Thursday. Four others were shot dead on Tuesday.
Many of the victims had returned home to try to grow crops to alleviate acute food shortages that have left hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of starvation.
Amnesty International said a spurt in Boko Haram attacks has left nearly 400 people dead since April in Nigeria and Cameroon — double the figure of the previous five months.
In Maiduguri on Friday, two people were killed in an explosion outside the Muna Garage camp for internally displaced people (IDPs).
Babakura Kolo, from the civilian militia assisting the military with security, said two women were asked to get out of a taxi laden with bags of charcoal at a checkpoint.
“One of the women tried to run into a crowd nearby but the explosives concealed under her hijab went off prematurely,” he said.
“A female passenger in the taxi and a rickshaw driver trailing behind were killed in the explosion,” he said in an account supported by a militia colleague, Musa Ari.
Five people — the taxi driver, another passenger and three men in the rickshaw — were injured, they added.
Kolo, who was at the scene, said a second female suicide bomber was also killed with the first in the initial blast.

Main category: