At least 86 die in Nigeria in communal clashes

Published: June 25, 2018 18:15:09 | Updated: June 29, 2018 13:57:38

At least 86 people have been killed in attacks in central Nigeria, police said, an incident that has the potential to exacerbate ethnic tensions in an increasingly volatile region.

The violence, thought to be carried out by armed herdsmen, flared on Saturday in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, according to a police statement reported in local media Sunday.

"Eighty six persons all together were killed, six people injured, fifty houses burnt," police spokesman Terna Tyopev was quoted as saying in local media reports.

Clashes between the nomadic Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslims, and farmers, who are predominantly Christians, have rocked Nigeria's Middle Belt since 2013 and are becoming more common.

Amid fears of revenge attacks from affected local communities, Simon Lalong, the governor of Plateau, announced that authorities will enforce a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Jos, reports CNN.

Lalong called the curfew "an immediate measure to protect the lives of citizens" in a statement on Twitter and said it will be in effect "until further notice."

He promised to follow up with longer term measures to secure peace in the area.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari posted a message on Twitter sending condolences to those affected and appealing for calm.

"The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau today is painful and regrettable," he said.

"We will not rest until all murderers and criminal elements and their sponsors are incapacitated and brought to justice," Buhari said.

The Nigerian President's ability to quell violence in the country is certain to be a defining issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential elections.

Nigeria is already grappling with a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed thousands of people and displaced millions internally.

Buhari, who is ethnically Fulani, has been accused of not doing enough to stop the violence and widely criticised on social media for his perceived inaction.

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