Herdsmen kill at least 96 people in Nigeria's Benue state

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Civilians who fled their homes following an attack by Islamist militants, in Gwoza arrived at the camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, Thursday Nov. 27, 2014. Thousands of people have fled their homes in recent times due to Boko Haram attacks . (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba )
Civilians who fled their homes following an attack by Islamist militants, in Gwoza arrived at the camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, Thursday Nov. 27, 2014. Thousands of people have fled their homes in recent times due to Boko Haram attacks . (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba )

At least 96 people were killed in Benue state in Nigeria’s middle belt region when several villages were attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen, a state police spokesman and an army source said on Tuesday.

Hundreds are killed each year in clashes pitting the semi-nomadic, cattle-herding Fulani people against more settled communities that practice a mix of farming and cattle rearing, driven by disputes centred around land use.

A senior military officer said fighting around five villages lasted several days in the Logo local government area of Benue.

Police spokesman Austine Ezeani said a mobile police unit was deployed to the area.

The unrest is often seen as sectarian in nature since Fulanis are Muslim and the communities with which they are in conflict in central Nigeria – where the country’s mostly Christian south and Muslim north meet – tend to be Christian.

Nigerian troops fought militiamen in early May after dozens were killed in villages on the border of middle belt states Plateau and Taraba.