Nigeria senator killed at mass burial after ethnic clash
JOS, Nigeria, (Reuters) – A Nigerian senator and several others were killed yesterday when gunmen attacked a mass burial for 63 victims of violence the previous day in volatile, ethnically mixed Plateau state, a government official said.
Saturday’s clashes between security forces and armed Fulani herdsmen erupted after the military said they intervened when fighting broke out between Fulani migrants and indigenous tribes in the Barkin Ladi district in Plateau.
A spokesman for the Fulani said the military opened fire on them because the government favours indigenous tribes.
The Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed several suicide bomb attacks this year on churches in Jos, the Plateau capital, prompting a Christian backlash against Muslims. There was no sign Boko Haram was involved in this weekend’s fighting.
Plateau is in the “Middle Belt”, where the largely Christian south meets the mostly Muslim north. It has for years been a tinderbox of ethnic and religious rivalries over fertile land and power between local people and migrants from other areas.
Senator Gyang Dantong of the ruling People’s Democratic Party and a state lawmaker were among those shot dead while attending the burial of victims of Saturday’s clashes. Burials were also under way in other parts of the state and the final death toll is likely to be higher.
“Tragedy. Serving Senator died following Fulani attack on mourners at a mass burial of 63 victims of a Fulani attack on over 9 villages the previous day,” said Istifanus Gyang, security adviser to the Plateau state governor.