The death toll from attacks on villages in Plateau State, in central Nigeria, between Saturday evening and Tuesday morning rose to nearly 200 dead on Wednesday, as victims began to be buried, officials said. local authorities.
The identity of the attackers is not known at the moment, in this region which has been plagued by religious and ethnic tensions for several years. The attacks took place during the Christmas holidays.
The chairman of the Bokkos government council, Monday Kassah, said he counted “148 Bokkos villagers massacred in cold blood” during his meeting with the vice-president of Nigeria, Kashim Shittema, to which were added “at least 50 people killed” in four villages in the neighboring district of Barkin Ladi, according to Dickson Chollom, an elected official of the local assembly, on Wednesday.
The previous report showed 163 deaths.
“We ask you to resist the temptation to succumb to divisions or poisonous rhetoric of hatred towards your fellow citizens, while we seek justice to ensure your safety,” Kashim Shittema declared Wednesday in front of local authorities and displaced people.
“No less than 20 villages” attacked between Saturday evening and Monday morning, Monday Kassah said on Tuesday, stressing that “the attacks were well coordinated”.
There are currently “500 injured and thousands displaced,” he declared.
A large number of victims were buried on Tuesday. “150 people,” said Timothy Nuwan, vice president of the Church of Christ in the Nations.
“There are many people who were killed, slaughtered like animals, in cold blood, some were in their homes, others were even outside. Today we have buried around 150 [personnes] throughout the area,” he explains.
Strengthen the area
Major General Abdussalami E. Abubakar, who attended one of the burials in a mass grave at Maiyanga village in Bokkos, reflected on the difficulties security forces encountered during the attacks.
“ […] Until 4 a.m. there were 36 different calls [la veille de Noël]. We were overwhelmed. And it could have been worse, much worse,” the major general explained to the village residents.
On Tuesday, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu ordered “security agencies to immediately intervene, search every inch of the area and apprehend the culprits,” after “strongly condemning the attacks,” the presidency said in a statement. a statement.
Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang also called for “united efforts to identify and apprehend those responsible for these heinous acts” in an official document the same day.
The populations of the northwestern and central regions of Nigeria live in terror of attacks by jihadist groups and criminal gangs who pillage villages and kill or kidnap their inhabitants.
For years, a bitter competition has also raged between breeders and farmers in this territory, the latter accusing the former of ransacking their land with their livestock.
Aggravated by climate change and the demographic explosion in this country of 215 million inhabitants, sporadic violence has led to a serious security crisis, between attacks by heavily armed bandits and endless reprisals between communities, but also humanitarian.
The new Nigerian president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who took office last May, has made the fight against insecurity one of the priorities of his mandate.