The conflict between Christian farmers and Muslim herders in Nigeria is taking a dangerous new dimension to the sectarian tensions in the country.
Residents and rights activists say the clashes are over land use and have killed more than 350 people, mostly Christian farmers.
Recent months have seen escalating violence following growing desertification and the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency that led the Muslim Fulani cattle owners move deep into the Christian south.
In April, about 50 people were killed when Fulanis attacked a village in Nimbo in the southeastern state of Biafra. According to lawmakers, rights activists and residents, the attackers opened fire on villagers.
“They planned, came in went through all the town and made sure that any man or young man they saw they killed him. Somebody was still operated upon three days ago, at the orthopedic, Enugu who has been there since four months ago and many of them have been there in the hospitals since that time till date but those who died, we buried,” said Joseph Obeta, a priest in Nimbo.
Residents in the region however see the arrival of the nomadic herdsmen as invasion backed by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state.
Buhari said last week that he had ordered security forces to “deal decisively” with violence between herdsmen and farmers.
But many believe that such announcements and previous pledges to tackle the clashes, were not backed up by any security action in areas affected by clashes.
The country is split between Muslims and Christians and there are no signs that the secessionists will take up arms against the federal government like in a 1967-70 civil war, which killed one million people.