The death toll from the ongoing clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria's Plateau state has surpassed 100, as local residents and authorities continue their search for more bodies in the bush.
On Tuesday, gunmen attacked villages in the Mangu local government area, setting fire to several houses and resulting in an initial estimate of 20 fatalities, predominantly women and children.
The violence was reportedly a retaliation for farmers killing a herder and his cattle who had encroached on their land the previous month, according to Fulani herder Bello Yahaya.
Minister Daniel Daput, the chairman of the Mangu local government, confirmed that a mass burial had taken place for approximately 50 individuals. Residents informed that an additional 50 bodies were scheduled for burial on Friday, while search efforts were ongoing to locate more missing individuals in the surrounding bush.
Plateau State, located in Nigeria's Middle Belt region, is recognized for its ethnic and religious diversity. Inter-communal conflicts have claimed numerous lives in recent years.
Although the violence is often depicted as ethnoreligious strife between Muslim herders and predominantly Christian farmers, other factors such as climate change and expanding agriculture play significant roles.
Makut Simon Macham, the spokesperson for the Plateau state governor, stated that authorities were assessing the situation and would ensure the prosecution of suspects, but specific casualty figures were not yet available.
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