A mob has attacked Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s restive middle-belt with an eyewitness saying Monday that fourteen people were “hacked and burnt” to death over the weekend.
The long-running battle between the nomadic Fulani herdsmen and farmers for land represents a major Nigerian battleground that is often overlooked but no less violent than the northeastern Boko Haram insurgency or the Niger delta uprising in the south.
“I was returning from Plateau state with eight passengers, all of them Fulani herders,” commercial bus driver Adamu Aliyu told AFP.
Aliyu said his bus broke down in Kaduna state, so he left it to go search for a mechanic.
“While I was away a mob surrounded the vehicle and forcibly brought out the eight passengers. They hacked them to death, dumped them in the vehicle and set it ablaze,” Aliyu said.
Aliyu said a riot broke out in the streets, with soldiers and police finally intervening to contain the carnage.
“When the situation calmed I returned to my vehicle and found its burnt carcass with charred remains of the passengers,” Aliyu said.
Jema’a local government chairman Bege Katuka said the area had been thrown into chaos with “indiscriminate” shooting the night before.
“On Saturday suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded Godogodo and opened indiscriminate fire on residents,” Katuka said.
“The following day youth in the area mobilised and blocked the highway, vandalising vehicles and attacking motorists,” Katuka said.
Kaduna state police spokesman Aliyu Usman acknowledged the Godogodo attack and the riot, but said only two people had died in the unrest.
Clashes over grazing rights are common between Muslim Fulani herders and largely Christian farmers in Nigeria, particularly in the religiously mixed central states.