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Nigeria: new deadly clashes, 13 dead

Nigeria: new deadly clashes, 13 dead
Children walk past a charred house in the remote town of Baga, in the north-east of the country, on 21 April 2013.   -  
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New clashes between farming and herding communities have left at least 13 people dead in central Nigeria since Friday, according to community leaders and local authorities.

In recent weeks, the central state of Plateau has seen a resurgence in tensions and deadly conflicts between herder and farmer communities, who are fighting over the use of land and resources.

On Friday, five herders on their way to a market to sell their animals "were arrested and killed" in the community of Rawuru by alleged "Berom youths", a farming community, explained local Fulani herders' representative Nuru Abdullahi.

Subsequently, in what appears to have been a retaliatory attack, eight Berom farmers were killed in the same Rawuru community by alleged "Fulani herders", Berom youth representative Pius Dalyop Pam added.

Local police spokesman Alfred Alagbo confirmed the latest attack and its toll. He said it followed the killing of herders, but could not confirm the exact toll of the first attack.

The north-western and central regions of Nigeria are regularly the scene of tensions and deadly conflicts over the use of land and water resources between farming and herding communities, exacerbated in recent years by demographic pressure and climate change.

The spate of murders followed by acts of reprisal has given rise to a wider range of criminality in the region, with gangs carrying out targeted raids on villages, killing villagers by the dozen, looting and kidnapping for ransom.

Since mid-May, more than 120 people have been killed in deadly clashes between communities in the same state of Plateau. More than 3,000 people have been displaced by the violence.

The local authorities, fearing that the violence could flare up again, have deployed mobile police forces in several districts of Plateau state in order to "restore peace", according to Mr. Alagbo.

The spate of killings followed by acts of retaliation has given rise to wider criminality in the region, with gangs carrying out targeted raids on villages, mass kidnappings and looting.

Nigeria's new president, Bola Tinubu, who was sworn in at the end of May as head of Africa's most populous country and the continent's largest economy, faces a host of security challenges.

Like his predecessors, he has promised to make the fight against insecurity "his top priority".

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