Intercommunal conflict has killed hundreds of people in recent years in the ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt region.
The death toll in the fighting between farmers and herders in Plateau State, north-central Nigeria, has topped 100 as residents search the bush for more bodies, according to residents and local authorities.
Gunmen stormed villages and burned several houses in the Mangu region on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people initially believed dead, mostly women and children.
The violence was in retaliation for farmers who killed a rancher and his cattle who encroached on their land last month, local rancher Bello Yahaya said on Friday.
Mangu local government chairman Minister Daniel Daput said a mass burial had taken place for around 50 people. Locals said another 50 people were due to be buried on Friday and they were looking for other missing people in the surrounding bush.
The Plateau is one of many ethnically and religiously diverse hinterland states known as Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where inter-communal conflict has killed hundreds of people in recent years.
The violence is often portrayed as an ethno-religious conflict between nomadic Muslim herders – mostly of Fulani descent – and primarily indigenous Christian farmers. However, experts say climate change and the expansion of agriculture have also exacerbated the conflict.
Makut Simon Macham, spokesman for the Plateau governor, said authorities were assessing the situation and would prosecute the suspects, but he could not give casualty figures.