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Gunmen kill 24 in central Nigeria: local govt

Gunmen have killed 24 people in two attacks in Nigeria's central Benue state, its governor said Wednesday, as violence caused by heavily armed criminal gangs intensifies across the region.

Gunmen have killed 24 people in two attacks in Nigeria’s central Benue state, its governor said Wednesday, as violence caused by heavily armed criminal gangs intensifies across the region.

Clashes over land and water between nomadic herders and local farmers are common in Benue, but in the past two years, communal tensions have become deadlier with gangs known locally as bandits raiding villages to kill, kidnap and rape.

“Suspected (Fulani) herdsmen invaded and killed 8 persons in Mbadwem in Guma local government and 16 in Tiortyu, a sprawling settlement in Tarka local government,” Benue’s government spokesman Nathaniel Ikyur said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Scores of others were injured and are receiving treatment in an unnamed hospital in the state,” he said.

Ikyur said the attacks took place late Monday, while police said the assault in Tiortyu occurred at 1.30 am on Tuesday.

On Sunday, gunmen killed more than 100 people in several attacks in nearby Plateau state, according to two local community leaders and the commander of a local vigilante force.

After those attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed that there would be no mercy for those responsible, as pressure mounts on the authorities to curb worsening security.

In Benue, police confirmed the attack in Tiortyu but gave a lower death toll of nine people killed.

The force spokeswoman Catherine Anene said they could not yet confirm the second attack in Mbadwem.

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said residents should “rise up to defend themselves.”

“It is becoming increasingly glaring every day that my people are now an endangered species and so we can no longer wait for help from anywhere,” he said in a statement released by his spokesman on Tuesday.

“We have only one option,” he added. “To defend ourselves or get extinct. This is a case for our survival.”

In addition to fighting gangs in the northwest and central Nigeria, Buhari’s security forces are also combatting a 12-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist tensions in the southeast.

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