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Gunmen kill nearly 50 in north central Nigeria

Gunmen have attacked a rural village in northern central Nigeria, killing dozens of people, local government officials said on Friday.

The attack happened on Wednesday in Umogidi community in Benue State, where tit-for-tat clashes are common between nomadic herders and settled farmers competing for land and resources.

“The 46 casualties were from the bodies of victims found and retrieved. Many people are still missing, so number of those killed may be higher,” Paul Hemba, security advisor to Benue State governor, told AFP.

He blamed herdsmen who he said had been attacking local communities over the last month.

“Soldiers have been dispatched to the area, so the situation is a bit calm now.”

The motive for the attack was not clear but Benue has been one of the hardest hit by clashes between farmers and herders who they accuse of destroying farmland with their cattle grazing.

A representative of the national herders’ association was not immediately available for comment.

Bala Ejeh, Otukpo local government chairman, said the gunmen attacked on Wednesday afternoon when people were mourning three others killed a day earlier.

He also said 46 bodies had been recovered so far, including that of his own son and two relatives.

Communal violence is just one of the security challenges facing President-elect Bola Tinubu who won a presidential ballot last month that was marked by heavy delays and accusations of vote rigging.

Security forces are also battling a 14-year-long jihadist conflict in the country’s northwest and attacks by separatists in the southeast.

Intercommunal violence has spiralled into broader criminality in the northwest and centre of the country, where heavily armed bandit militias ransack villages and carry out mass abductions for ransom.

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