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Central Nigeria ethnic violence kills 19, displaces 4,500

In weekend attacks following disputes between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups in Nigeria, 19 people left dead and more than 4,000 displaced

AFP , Tuesday 2 Apr 2013
Bomb explosion at Catholic Church just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, 25 December, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
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Weekend attacks on three communities in volatile and ethnically divided central Nigeria have left 19 people dead and displaced some 4,500 others, a local official said on Tuesday.

"From the death toll we've compiled, 19 people including women and children were killed by gunmen we suspect to be Fulani herdsmen in attacks on three communities on Saturday night through Sunday," local government official Kumai Badu told AFP of the violence in the Kaura district, a remote area of Kaduna state.

He added that some 4,500 were displaced and two camps had been set up to house them.

The attacks were believed to be reprisals in a dispute involving mainly Muslim Fulanis and the mostly Christian Atakar ethnic group.

Fulanis in the area tend to be nomadic herdsmen, while Atakar are mainly farmers. Land disputes often flare-up between the two groups.

Southern Kaduna state, where the attack occurred, is located in the Middle Belt region dividing Nigeria's mainly Christian south and its mostly Muslim north.

Hundreds were killed in riots in southern Kaduna after 2011 elections, with most of the victims Muslim, according to Human Rights Watch.

Speaking of the weekend violence, Badu said "the attack we believe was in response to the poisoning of some herds by some local farmers over encroachment into their farmlands."

Dozens have been killed over the last couple weeks in similar ethnic violence in neighbouring Plateau state.

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