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Curfew imposed in Nigeria

Gunmen attack on funeral fuels sectarian strife


A curfew was imposed on the Nigerian state of Plateau on Monday, after gunmen killed a federal senator and a state politician at a funeral for victims of an earlier attack.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew follows a weekend of massive violence, starting with raids on Christians in villages on Saturday.

At a mass burial of the village attack victims, two Nigerian politicians were gunned down; Gyang Dantong, a senator for the Plateau North district, and Gyang Fulani, a member of the House of Assembly.

A third federal politician was also wounded during the attack.

“He escaped death by a whisker.” Pam Ayuba, spokesman for the state’s governor, told Al-Jazeera.

The state of Plateau is situated in a place known as the “Middle Belt”, which separates the Muslim-dominated north of the country, from the Christian dominated south.

Unconfirmed reports from the BBC suggest that the death-toll of the funeral could have in fact reached almost 20 people.

The reports could not be independently verified.

The mass burial was held to mourn the victims of Saturday’s violence, which saw 37 people killed in villages, according to Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special taskforce responsible for controlling the violence in the country.

The victims included two policemen, 15 Christian villagers, and 21 of those who had carried out the attack.

Salisu told AP news agency that Saturday’s attacks were carried out by people who came in hundreds, some of them wearing police uniforms and bulletproof vests, adding that they used “sophisticated” methods of attacks.

The Nigerian Red Cross told AP that they had counted 56 dead. Red Cross official Andronicus Adeyemo furthermore added to AP that more than 300 villagers were displaced following Saturday’s attacks.

Adeyemo also claimed that the politicians were not attacked at the funeral itself but rather ambushed on their way there.

“As a nation, we must rise against those who are determined to return us to a state of nature where life has little or no value” was Nigerian Senate President David Mark comment on the latest violence.

The attacks were blamed on Fulani herdsmen.

The Fulani ethnic group is a Muslim one which occupies much of Nigeria as well as the rest of West Africa.

There have been recent clashes between them and the Christian Berom ethnic group.

Both politicians attacked were members of the Berom group.

The conflict between both groups is all but a small-scale reflection mirroring the ethnic strife in the rest of Nigeria.

Religiously motivated attacks were also carried out recently in the neighboring state of Kaduna, when bombings by the Boko Haram militant group led to reprisals when Christians attacked local mosques.

Affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram has been launching attacks on Christians for almost a year now, pushing for the imposition of Sharia law in Nigeria.

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