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Deadly Christmas attack in Nigeria: Over 140 dead, 300 injured in attacks by ‘bandit’ groups in Plateau

The region, which lies on the border between Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, has long been driven by ethnic and religious tensions.

At least 140 people were killed in a brutal attack by armed rebels in the central Nigerian state of Plateau. The death toll rose sharply on Monday (25th December) evening after the region experienced major disturbances over the Christmas weekend. The armed groups known locally as “bandits” launched orchestrated assaults on 20 different communities in Central Nigeria, the region that has been plagued with religious and ethnic tensions for several years. 

“As many as 113 persons have been confirmed killed as Saturday hostilities persisted to early hours of Monday,” Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos, Plateau State, told local reporters on Monday (25th December). “We found more than 300 wounded people” he added.

The authorities further informed that all the injured persons had been taken to the hospitals in Bokkos, Jos, and Barkin Ladi.

Reports mention that the attacks took place when people in the villages were asleep on Sunday (24th December). The ‘bandits’ arrived in the villages and launched a series of brutal attacks, burning homes, and killing people.

“We were sleeping when suddenly loud shots rang out. We were scared because we weren’t expecting an attack. People hid, but the assailants captured many of us, some were killed, and others wounded,” Markus Amorudu, one of the residents of the village was quoted as saying.

The region, which lies on the border between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, has long been driven by ethnic and religious tensions.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the latest attack or who was to blame.

Security personnel have been sent to prevent further clashes in the area, where tit-for-tat killings between herders, who are predominantly Muslim, and farmers, who are predominantly Christian, frequently escalate into village raids by heavily armed groups.

The attack, which began in the Bokkos area, spread to Barkin Lath, where 30 people were found dead. According to the reports, Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwan denounced the incident as “barbaric, brutal, and unjustified” on Sunday (24th December). “The government will take proactive measures to reduce ongoing attacks against innocent civilians,” said Gyang Bere, the governor’s spokesperson.

Known as “Nigeria’s Middle Belt,” Plateau State has seen a number of ethnic and religious conflicts. The region’s violence is frequently portrayed as a conflict between Muslim herders and primarily Christian farmers.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the area has long been terrorised by bandit militias that raid villages and loot the inhabitants for ransom, operating from bases tucked away in the forest. Conflicts over natural resources have been one of the most visible factors contributing to the conflict’s persistence.

Amid the turmoil, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former Lagos governor elected in February, has promised to attract more investment to Africa’s largest economy to address the continent’s persistent security challenges.

Both the police force and the joint security task force Operation Safe Haven are yet to comment on the attacks as rescue operations are ongoing at the affected communities.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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