Nigeria attack: Scores killed in Katsina state


At least 69 people have been killed in several attacks on villages in Katsina state, north-western Nigeria.

Witnesses say dozens of attackers rode motorcycles into villages and killed anyone they found.

The assailants appear to have been ethnic Fulani cattle herders who have a history of tension with local farmers.

Police say the attack is not linked to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is mainly active further east, particularly in Borno state.

The attacks, which first began on Tuesday evening, sent scores of people fleeing on foot from the four targeted villages about 180 km (110 miles) south of Katsina city.

"The victims include men, women and children. Rescue teams are still combing nearby bushes [to] search for more bodies," state police chief Hurdi Mohammed told the AFP news agency.

Local MP Abdullahi Abbas Machika said 47 people were buried in one village alone in Katsina state after Wednesday's attack.

Local residents have told the BBC Hausa service that security personnel have still not been deployed to the area.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The president's administration is battling a series of security threats in northern Nigeria

President Goodluck Jonathan is currently visiting Katsina state to commission some government projects.

Mr Machika told the BBC that the security personnel were busy protecting the president while his constituents were being killed.

Waves of violence

After the initial attack late on Tuesday, people were still burying victims at Marabar Kindo village when the attackers returned on Thursday afternoon and shot another seven villagers, resident Adamu Inuwa told the AP news agency.

They also set fire to thatched huts, said Mr Inuwa.

The chief imam of Maigora said that two policemen responding to calls for help were among the dead - and that two men in military uniform were among the attackers.

For months, the area has been terrorised by raids blamed on semi-nomadic Fulani herders attacking Hausa farmers. Both groups are Muslim.

Most Fulani-related violence in Nigeria is concentrated around central Plateau state, where Muslim herders are pitted against Christian farmers. Thousands have been killed in recent years.

Such conflicts - a mix of land disputes, tribal and religious animosity - are unrelated to the Islamist insurgency concentrated mainly in Nigeria's northeast, in which many civilians have also been killed.

Nigerian media have described the assailants as cattle rustlers and villagers noted that in past raids the herders stole belongings, especially livestock. But Kabiru Ismail said that this time "they just killed people," adding: "It's as if their mission is to wipe out entire villages."

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