ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — At least 20 people were killed by gunmen in north-central Nigeria early Thursday, surivors said, the latest in a cycle of violence targeting remote villages in the West African nation.
Dozens of gunmen arrived in Plateau state’s Heipang village after 1 a.m. and opened fire on villagers, most of whom were asleep, residents said.
“In a particular family, they killed five people — both the father, the mother and the children,” said one survivor, Jacob Dadi.
Dadi said villagers recovered 17 bodies in Heipang and then more people were shot to death as the gunmen fled to nearby brush land that often act as their hideout.
A local youth group, the Berom Youth Movement, said 21 people had been killed in total and seven others were injured.
Police confirmed the attack occurred but could not provide any detail about casualties in the area, which is 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Jos, the Plateau state capital.
Such attacks have become common in many parts of Nigeria’s northern region, where several armed groups target villages with inadequate security, either killing or abducting residents and travelers for ransom.
The attacks have defied security measures, including those introduced by Nigeria’s new president, Bola Tinubu, who was elected this year after promising to end the killings.
Residents in Heipang blamed the attack on herders of Fulani origin, who took up arms after clashing with farming communities for several decades over limited access to land and water. Plateau is among the areas with the most such attacks, with more than 100 people killed in the state in recent months.
Plateau Gov. Caleb Mutfwang said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack. The governor “appealed to security agencies to redouble their efforts and put an end to the senseless killings” in the state, Gyang Bere, his spokesman, said in a statement.
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.