Bloody Christmas in Nigeria, 160 people killed in several villages

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By John

Bloody Christmas in several villages in Plateau state, central Nigeria: at least 160 people were killed in attacks by armed groups between Saturday evening and Monday. Plateau is located on the dividing line between the Muslim-majority North of Nigeria and the Christian-majority South, and has endured ethnic and religious tensions for years. But not only that: it is a state in which, due to the scarce natural resources available, clashes between communities of farmers, mostly Christians, and shepherds of the Fulani population, mostly Muslims, are frequent. A source told local newspaper The Nation, anonymously, that locals suspect the gunmen were shepherds, who invaded the community and opened fire, shooting indiscriminately. Chairman of the Plateau Youth Ethnic Nationalities Coalition, Paul Dakete, stressed that the killings had turned what should have been a festive celebration, Christmas, into a period of mourning and urged the authorities to put an end to such attacks because “the madness must end”.
“The hostilities that began on Saturday continued on Monday morning,” said Monday Kassah, president of the governing council of Bokkos, an electoral constituency located in a region that has been plagued by religious and ethnic tensions for several years. “At least 113 bodies have been found,” he added, while the toll provided by the authorities on Sunday was 16 dead; and “more than 300 people” were injured and transferred to hospitals in Bokkos, Jos and Barkin Ladi, Kassah added. Armed groups, locally described as “bandits”, attacked “no fewer than 20 villages” between Saturday evening and Monday morning, he continued, stressing that “the attacks were well coordinated”. The attacks began in Bokkos district and then spread to the neighboring district of Barkin Ladi where “30 people were found dead”, according to Danjuma Dakil, its president. On Sunday, Plateau State governor Caleb Mutfwang described the armed action as “barbaric, brutal and unjustified”. “The government will take proactive measures to curb the ongoing attacks against innocent citizens,” assured Gyang Bere, spokesman for the governor. According to a local source, gunshots were heard again late on Sunday afternoon. Amnesty International reacted on its X account, denouncing that “the Nigerian authorities have consistently failed in their attempts to put an end to these frequent attacks in Plateau state”. The populations of the north-western and central regions of Nigeria live in fear of attacks by jihadist groups and criminal gangs who sack villages and kill or kidnap their inhabitants