80 Buildings Burned, Six Dead As Islamists Attack Christians In Nigeria’s Taraba State

by Ike Obudulu Last updated on March 13th, 2017,

Six people have died and several buildings were burned in clashes between mostly Christian farmers and Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Taraba state, police officials said. The attack comes as Nigeria’s government is finally making efforts to curtail the unrest across Nigeria’s Middle Belt amid rising frustration.

David Misal, a state police spokesman, said the clashes began over the weekend in the Lau local government area and triggered several reprisal attacks that continued into Tuesday. The fighters also burned down 80 buildings, Misal said, adding that antiriot police had reported to the area when the clashes began Friday.

Pastor Agbabison Azooka of the Christian Reformed Church of God in Taraba said the attack began when one Christian farmer complained to  the Fulani community after  their cows destroyed his crops. Azooka said members of the Fulani community promised to come over and settle the dispute, but some Fulani youth butchered the farmer before he could make it home. The farmers went over to the community to mediate the dispute and had even signed a peace agreement with them, but the conflict had already started in the village.

“Unknown to the farmers who were making peace, the herdsmen had surrounded their villages,” Azooka said.

He said the conflict burned down multiple buildings, including two of the church’s structures in the region. Several members of his church who were displaced by the conflict are now seeking shelter in the church’s branch in the capital city, he said.

Tension between farmers and herdsmen continues across Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. In Adamawa state, witnesses said three people died yesterday after some herdsmen attacked them at a pond. The Catholic Church in southern Kaduna has said attacks by herdsmen have killed more than 800 people, though the government has placed the death toll at just over 200.

Earlier this month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for the first time detailed the government’s emergency response plan in the affected communities. The senate also set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate and find solutions to the recurring clashes. The government said it had deployed several additional police officials to southern Kaduna and the Nigerian Army would set up two new battalions in the region.

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