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Nigeria’s Plateau state violence: ‘His six children are still crying’

In Europe
January 26, 2024

At least 43 people have died in two days of clashes in a town in central Nigeria, residents have told the BBC, saying the search for bodies continues.

A row over cattle sparked the violence in Plateau state, where there are fraught ethnic and religious tensions.

One man in Mangu town told the BBC how his 63-year-old brother had been killed in his home, which was then set ablaze.

“As I speak to you, his six children are still crying. We have just buried him with another 14 bodies,” he said.

Plateau is where Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north meets the largely Christian south and many communities are mixed.

Residents of Mangu, which is 74km (45 miles) south-east of the state capital, Jos, are mainly from the Muslim Fulani and Christian Mwagaful ethnic groups

Fulani businessman Umar Haruna was at home when the trouble erupted on Tuesday afternoon, his brother Abdullahi Haruna said.

He lived in an area of the town where both ethnic groups reside – and where now 100 houses have been burnt down, he said.

Seven mosques and four churches have also been destroyed, Mr Haruna said.

Umar Haruna’s wife and children were not at home when the house was attacked. They only returned on Wednesday.

“When we went to the house, his body was burnt just as the house. We couldn’t even give him the usual Muslim corpse bath due to the fact that the body was damaged badly,” the brother said.

Dagen Emmanuel Bello, an ethnic Magwaful, said he seen dead bodies on the streets and buildings burnt.

“There are some people who were killed and their bodies hidden, so we are still trying to search for them at the moment,” he told BBC Hausa.

The violence began after cattle belonging to Fulani residents escaped on to a road angering some in the Mwagaful community. A 24-hour curfew was then imposed but did not stop further violence on Wednesday.

People in the area said soldiers were deployed to Mangu but stayed on the main roads and did not intervene in the suburbs where the tit-for-tat revenge attacks continued.

More than 100 people lost their lives in similar violence in another part of Plateau state over Christmas.

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