Dozens of people, including two politicians, have been killed in a triple attack on a Christian farming community in Plateau state, Nigeria, by Muslim herdsmen.
The first incident happened on Thursday morning (5 July) when Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group destroyed 43 Christian-owned farms. Nobody was arrested.
They followed this up on Saturday (July 7) with attacks on nine Christian villages around the city of Jos, killing at least 14 Christians from the Berom ethnic group. Some sources put the death toll much higher, reporting the discovery of piles of burnt bodies.
The next day, a funeral for the victims of the village raids was attacked by the Muslim herdsmen. Two politicians in attendance, Gyang Dantong, the senator representing Plateau North, and Gyang Fulani, the majority leader of the state assembly, were shot dead. Both were believed to be Christian. About 20 other people were also reportedly killed.
A spokesman for the state’s governor said that the Muslims resented Plateau state’s Christian political leadership. The state is in Nigeria’s Middle Belt between the country’s predominantly Muslim North and mainly Christian South. It has been the scene of frequent anti-Christian violence.
A local Christian leader blamed the Nigerian government for failing to protect Christians. He said that most of the military forces in the area protect Muslim villages instead of the Christian ones.
One commentator suggested that the deaths of the politicians may drive the tensions in Jos to the top of the political agenda.
The triple attack in Plateau state comes as Christians, especially those in Northern Nigeria, are under the mounting threat of violence by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which wants to establish an Islamic state there. Churches have been bombed on an almost weekly basis over the last few months, including two in Jos within the space of two weeks.