Six people were killed last weekend when cattle herders battled farmers in northeast Nigeria, a state government official said on Tuesday, in violence that has piled pressure on the government.
The clashes happened on Sunday in the Numan district of Adamawa state, where militia from the ethnic Bachama farming community killed at least 30 Fulani herders last November.
“Six people were killed and many others were injured in attacks on two villages, Kikan and Lauru,” Adamawa state information commissioner Ahmad Sajo told AFP.
“A group of Fulani attacked Kikan, which is a Bachama village, killing three people, injuring many and carting away cattle.”
He added: “Bachama youths in the area mobilised and launched a reprisal attack on nearby Lauru village.”
But the attack may have targeted the wrong community, as Lauru is home to Hausa-speaking Muslims who are not Fulani people.
“They are largely vegetable growers,” said Sajo. “They (the Bachama) killed three people, burned the whole village and injured one.”
Tit-for-tat attacks have left thousands dead in recent decades, mainly in Nigeria’s central states. Religion has exacerbated long-standing ethnic and sectarian tensions.
The Fulani are Muslim while the farmers are largely Christian.
Tensions have been increasing because of the nomadic herders’ need for land and water for their livestock, which has pushed them beyond their normal grazing land.
Earlier this month, more than 70 people from the Tiv farming community were killed in the central state of Benue, bringing the issue to the fore once again.
Critics of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is expected to seek a second term of office at elections next February, have accused him of failing to act.
He has rejected claims that it is because he is also of Fulani stock, while the herders have said they have seen more than 1 000 killed since last June.
Failure to prosecute those responsible, even where the perpetrators are known to the authorities, has been seen as a major factor in causing the spiral of violence.