As economic hardship and ethno-religious tensions rise in the region, Nigeria has just seen its most deadly attack this year.
This Christmas attack has seen over 140 people killed according to human rights groups and local officials.
Over 20 villages throughout the Barkin Ladi and Bokkos areas in Plateau state were targeted, as the attacks began on the 24th of December and continued through to the 25th.
The head of the local government in Bokkos, Monday Kassah, told local reporters that by the 25th 113 bodies had been found, with ongoing rescue operations still taking place. “The attacks were well-coordinated. Not fewer than 20 different communities were attacked by the bandits,” he said.
Member of the Plateau state parliament, Dickson Chollom told AFP news that “at least 50 people were killed” in attacks on four villages in Barkin Ladi.
However Amnesty International who has an office in Nigeria has said that they have estimated more than 140 people have been confirmed to be dead, as a spokesperson said that “as more dead bodies of those who tried to escape the attacks are found by search teams”.
With over 300 injured in addition to those killed, and multiple villagers forced to flee their homes, it is still unclear who was responsible for the attack as no group has claimed responsibility as of yet.
Bandits in the north and central areas of Nigeria have plagued villages for years by roving in armed groups, raiding villages for supplies, stealing cattle, and kidnapping people (including children) for profit. These bandits also make their money in illegal mining across the country.
Much of this violence has historically occurred in the Plateau region, specifically an area called the Middle Belt, as it is the area where the predominantly Muslim north and the CHristian south meet, leading to decades long intercommunal and ethno-religious violence occurring.
Beyond that the groups in the area also fight for dwindling resources, such as land and water for local farmers and herders. Yet despite all this violence, no Nigerian government has yet found a solution to curb the attacks and tensions in the region.
This Christmas attack has been the deadliest attack since May of 2023, when again unknown bandits raided villages in Plateau killing more than 100 people. According to local newspapers, a total of 421 people have been killed in these types of attacks between May and October of 2023.
These violent attacks have also been helping worsen Nigeria's declining economy, as farmers are forced to leave their lands, leading to increased prices for food, and a decreased level of output.
In a statement by a spokesperson for Amnesty International, they placed blame for the attacks on President Bola Tinbu for his “empty” promises to impose security measures to end the violence, “Tinubu must do more than merely condemning these horrific attacks. Suspected perpetrators must be promptly brought to justice.”
They also blamed the authorities for failing their duty to “end frequent deadly attacks on rural communities of Plateau state”, further stating that ““Nigerian authorities must impartially and effectively investigate these attacks”.
So far presidential spokespeople have declined to comment on the matter, however the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs have condemned the attacks in a statement this Tuesday the 26th.
The statement read “France calls for the perpetrators of these attacks to be identified and brought to justice, and assures the Nigerian authorities of its full solidarity”.
Edited by Chloe Mansola
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