At least 100 have died in attacks in central Nigeria. They are the latest killed in suspected territorial clashes between the cattle-herding Fulani and mostly Christian settled communities in Nigeria's Middle Belt.
Reports emerged Sunday that about 40 men armed with guns, knives and machetes stormed villages in central Nigeria on Friday night and early Saturday morning, killing more than 100 people.
Scores more were wounded and several houses were set on fire, local government officials said on Sunday. The attack follows another in which dozens were killed in the same region just last week.
"We have at least 100 dead bodies from the three villages attacked by the gunmen," Yakubu Bitiyong, a lawmaker at the Kaduna state parliament, told the news agency AFP.
Local residents claimed the raids on the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, in Kaduna state, were carried out by Fulani herdsman.
"Fulani gunmen came across from neighboring Plateau state and just opened fire on the villagers at around 11 p.m.," said Daniel Anyip, vice chairman of a local government authority.
"We are still picking bodies out of the bush but so far there are more than 100 killed," Anyip added.
In December, Human Rights Watch reported that clashes since 2010 in the country's religiously mixed central regions had claimed a total of 3,000 lives and accused authorities of largely ignoring the violence, an accusation they denied.
Nigeria - with almost 170 million people, Africa's most populous country - splits roughly equally between Christians and Muslims, with about 250 different ethnic groups in total, who mostly live peacefully side-by-side.
News agencies reported that the attacks do not have links to the insurgency in the northeast by Boko Haram, an al Qaeda-linked group that wants to impose Shariah law in parts of Nigeria. That fight has led to repercussions across the region.
mkg/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)