The death toll from the mysterious bomb blast that hit a group of herders in central Nigeria on the border between Nasarawa and Benue states on Wednesday, in an area plagued by communal violence, has risen to 40, up from 27 previously, the local government said Thursday.
A group representing herders said on Wednesday that the explosion came from a strike by the Nigerian army. “There was a rumor earlier that the air force carried out this bombardment, but we now know that there was no air force overflight” over this region, the governor said from Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule at Arise News TV Channel. “It was a drone that flew over the area and dropped the bomb,” he said, without saying who was in command.
“It was an airstrike. It killed 27 people” from the group, Lawal Dano, a member of the Nigeria Cattle Breeders Association, Miyetti Allah, said on Wednesday. “We all know that only the military have planes to carry out airstrikes, and we call for a thorough investigation and necessary sanctions for those behind this,” he added.
Many disputes in the region
In the past, there have been accidental military strikes on civilians in the north of the country where the military is fighting jihadists and criminal gangs.
Disputes between cattle herders and farmers over land, grazing and water rights are common in the central and northwestern regions of Nigeria. Last week, nine people were killed by armed men near a camp for displaced people, according to Benue state authorities.
The tensions, whose roots go back more than a century, are caused by droughts, population growth, the expansion of sedentary agriculture and poor governance. In recent years, these conflicts have sometimes taken on an ethnic and religious dimension, with the Fulani herders being Muslims and the farmers mostly Christians.