KANO (AFP) – At least seven people were killed in ethnic and religious violence in eastern Nigeria’s Taraba state, police said Thursday, with local residents putting the toll at 20.
Violence erupted in the town of Wukari on Tuesday through Wednesday when Christian Jukun gunmen attacked their Muslim Hausa-Fulani neighbours in a reprisal attack following fighting in a nearby village, state police spokesman Joseph Kwaji told AFP.
“Seven people were killed in the violence which started late Tuesday and continued overnight,” he said.
He said some 40 homes were razed in the violence, the latest to hit the deeply divided state in recent months.
“Jukun youths launched reprisal attacks on the Hausa-Fulani following an earlier bloody encounter with their kinsmen in neighbouring Nwunkyo-Kura village,” Kwaji said.
He said soldiers and police had deployed to contain the violence, but added that no arrests had been made.
Residents said the Jukuns had joined their kinsmen in Nwunkyo-Kura on Tuesday to fight suspected Fulani attackers who stormed the village from neighbouring Plateau state.
Ali Shehu, a Wukari resident, said he personally counted 14 bodies after the violence and was told of six other corpses found in different parts of the town.
“We just came under gun attack without any justification,” said Shehu, whose house was also razed during the fighting.
Religiously divided Taraba has seen a wave of ethnic and sectarian violence in recent months as the Jukun and their neighbours jostle for political control of the state.
On April 5, the state government imposed a round-the-clock curfew on the town of Ibi following bloody fighting between the two rivals which left many people dead.