Dozens Reported Killed in Nigerian Land Clashes

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Tue Jan 8 17:32:54 GMT 2002

Dozens Reported Killed in Nigerian Land Clashes


LAGOS (Reuters) - Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in weeklong clashes between farmers and nomadic tribesmen in northeastern Nigeria, the latest bout of ethnic bloodletting to hit Africa's most populous nation.

Local residents said Tuesday that fighting between Mambila indigenous farmers and nomadic Fulani had flared sporadically since New Year's Eve around Tonga Maina village on the Mambila Plateau of Taraba State.

Residents of nearby towns contacted by telephone could not give a precise death toll, but national newspapers put the figure at between 30 and 50.

Multi-ethnic Nigeria, with a population of over 110 million divided into some 250 tribes, is struggling with its worst cycle of ethnic bloodletting for more than 30 years.

Much of the fighting has been underpinned by religious and political differences, notably in the largely Islamic north of the country. The introduction of strict Muslim sharia law by a dozen states has triggered Muslim-Christian fighting which has killed more than 2,000 people in two years.

Land is at the center of much of the violence in northeastern and central Nigeria, where peasant minority groups have been jostling for farmland with livestock rearers.

Police in Yola, capital of neighboring Adamawa state, said a team of officers from Yola was heading for Mambila Tuesday to assess the situation.

The independent Guardian newspaper said the fighting had forced many Fulani to take their livestock across the border into the neighboring West African state of Cameroon.

It said the fighting flared after Mambila youths confronted a group they said was part of a militia hired by the Fulani in Tonga Maina village.

Riot police deployed in the area have arrested more than 40 people, newspapers said.

See loads of links to the situation in Nigeria at

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