In a devastating wave of violence that swept through central Nigeria’s Plateau State, the death toll has surged to almost 200, according to local authorities.
The attacks, which occurred between Saturday evening and Tuesday morning, have once again exposed the region’s longstanding challenges with religious and ethnic tensions.
Initially reported at 163, the death toll climbed during a meeting with Nigeria’s vice president on Wednesday. Monday, Kassah, the head of the local government in Bokkos, Plateau State, revealed that 148 Bokkos villagers had lost their lives in the brutal attacks.
Additionally, at least 50 people were reported dead in several villages in the Barkin Ladi area, as stated by Dickson Chollom, a member of the state parliament.
Survivors have begun burying the dead, but there are fears that the death toll could rise further as some individuals remain missing. Kassah reported that 500 people had been injured, and thousands were displaced in the wake of the violence.
The attacks targeted at least 20 villages in a series of well-coordinated assaults, which continued late into Monday afternoon, with gunfire still echoing in the region.
Plateau State lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and mainly Christian south, adding a religious dimension to the ongoing tensions.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, addressing local officials and displaced individuals, implored the community to resist succumbing to divisive rhetoric.
“We appeal to you to resist the temptation to succumb to sectional divisions or the poisonous rhetoric of hatred towards your fellow citizens as we pursue justice to ensure your security,” he said.
The vice president’s call for unity comes amidst the horror described by Timothy Nuwan, vice president of the Church of Christ in Nations, who reported that many victims were “slaughtered like animals” in their homes or outside.
Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu decried the attacks and swiftly ordered security agencies to intervene. “Security agencies [are] to immediately move in, scour every stretch of the zone, and apprehend the culprits,” President Tinubu stated.
Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang echoed this sentiment, calling for united efforts to identify and apprehend those responsible for the heinous acts.
The northwest and central regions of Nigeria have long been plagued by bandit militias operating from remote forest bases. These militias raid villages, looting and kidnapping residents for ransom.
The competition for natural resources between nomadic herders and farmers, exacerbated by rapid population growth and climate pressures, has further fueled social tensions and violence.
Adding to Nigeria’s complex security challenges, a jihadist conflict has raged in the northeastern part of the country since 2009.
Tens of thousands have lost their lives, and around two million people have been displaced as Boko Haram battles for supremacy against rivals linked to the Islamic State group.
As the nation grapples with the aftermath of this latest wave of violence in Plateau State, urgent and decisive action is needed to apprehend the perpetrators and address the root causes of the ongoing strife.
The international community watches with concern as Nigeria confronts the multifaceted challenges threatening the stability and security of its citizens.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members