At Least 160 Dead from Gang Attacks in Nigeria

( – More than 160 people have been killed in central Nigeria after armed groups launched “well-coordinated” attacks on at least 20 different villages.

The armed groups torched houses and attacked communities in a region that has, for years, suffered from ethnic and religious tensions. Plateau, the area that divides Nigeria’s mainly Christian south and mainly Muslim north, has been terrorized by bandit militias that operate from bases deep in forests. The groups pillage villages and kidnap or kill the residents of the villages. They also fight with residents over resources such as land and water.

According to local chairman Danjuma Dakil, the attacks began Dec. 23 in the Bokkos area and continued into Dec. 25 in the neighboring community of Barkin Ladi. Mushu village resident Markus Amorudu said people were sleeping when the attacks began.

Head of the local government in Bokkos, Plateau State, Monday Kassah, said the “hostilities persisted to early hours of Monday.” He added that over 300 were transferred to hospitals in Jos, Barkin Ladi and Bokkos, after being wounded in the attacks.

In 18 villages in the Bokkos region, the local Red Cross reported a provisional death toll of 104. According to Dickson Chollom, a member of the state parliament, more than 50 people were reportedly killed in several villages in the Barkin Ladi area. Chollom condemned the attacks, saying, “We are united in our pursuit of justice and lasting peace.”

Plateau State governor Caleb Mutfwang called the violence “barbaric, brutal and unjustified. The governor’s spokesperson Gyang Bere added that the government would take proactive measures to stop the “ongoing attacks against innocent civilians.”

In a post on Twitter, Amnesty International wrote that the government has failed “to end frequent deadly attacks on rural communities of Plateau State.”

The attack is the deadliest since the May attack that killed over 100 in communities around the Plateau region. No group has claimed responsibility for the recent attack.

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