Fighting has erupted again in Nigeria’s Plateau State, where more than 100 people are believed to have died last weekend in clashes among rival ethnic groups and government security forces. For more than a decade, the area has been a flashpoint for conflicting claims between local peoples and migrant herders from other areas. Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic clashes in recent years around Plateau’s administrative capital, Jos, adding to the tensions and instability caused by an ongoing campaign of violence waged by the Boko Haram militant group.
The United States condemns the assaults on innocent civilians that have occurred in Plateau State, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who died in the attacks. We fully support Nigerian authorities in their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The recent troubles began July 6. The exact chain of events is unclear, but at some point fighting broke out between a group of the Fulani people, herdsmen who migrate through the area to graze their cattle, and Berom farmers who contest their use of the land. Homes were destroyed, between 100 and 150 people killed and hundreds more displaced. Security forces responded, but the next day 20 more people were killed, including a federal senator and a member of the Plateau State Assembly, when a funeral party was attacked.
Though all initial evidence indicates that the attacks were related to the ongoing conflict between farmers and herdsmen, a spokesman for Boko Haram claimed the group was behind the attacks. The group often targets security forces and government officials.
Calm has been restored as the state government imposed a curfew on the region. The United States urges all parties to refrain from the kind of reprisal attacks that have fueled a cycle of such violence in the region. The Nigerian government has a role to play, as well, engaging communities vulnerable to extremist violence and in all security responses respecting human rights and protecting civilians.