Clash over land leaves dozens dead

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Kano -

Dozens of gunmen on motorbikes have killed more than 100 villagers in an ongoing conflict over land in northern Nigeria, survivors said on Thursday.

The attacks, which began on Tuesday night, left scores of people fleeing on foot from the four targeted villages about 180km south of Katsina city.

People were still burying victims at Marabar Kindo village when the attackers returned on Thursday afternoon and gunned down another seven villagers, said resident Adamu Inuwa. They also set fire to thatch-roofed huts, said Inuwa.

Kabiru Ismail of Maigora village said the first raid came late on Tuesday and residents were continuing to recover bodies on Thursday of people who had fled into the bush with the gunmen in pursuit.

Reached by telephone on Thursday morning, Ismail said he had helped bury more than 40 people. By late afternoon, he said he had counted 103 bodies in three of the four villages.

The chief imam of Maigora said two policemen responding to calls for help were among the dead. He and Ismail also said two men in military uniform were among the attackers.

For months, the area has been terrorised by raids blamed on semi-nomadic Fulani herders attacking Hausa farmers. Both are Muslim.

Most Fulani-related violence in Nigeria is concentrated around central Plateau state, where Muslim herders are pitted against Christian farmers. Thousands have been killed in recent years.

Such conflicts - a mix of tribal and religious animosity aggravated by growing rivalries over land by cattle herders and farmers - are unrelated to an Islamic uprising concentrated mainly in the north-east of Nigeria in which militants also have killed thousands of civilians.

Villagers attacked this week noted that in past raids in Katsina state the herders stole their belongings and especially cattle and sheep.

“This time they just killed people,” Ismail said. “It's as if their mission is to wipe out entire villages.” - Sapa-AP

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