JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least nine people have been killed in sectarian clashes in central Nigeria, the military said on Friday, a region straddling the boundary between the mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south of the country.
Violence flared after the discovery of a corpse of a missing person in the Wadata region of Plateau state in Africa’s most populous nation, local residents said.
Fighting broke out between the Muslim Fulani and mainly Christian Tarok groups, who often compete for fertile pastures in Plateau. Local resident Nuru Shehu said 22 bodies were found after the violence, which began on Tuesday night.
“I am confirming to you that nine people were killed in a clash between the Fulani and the Tarok people,” Military Spokesman Ibrahim Mustapha told Reuters.
In the past decade Plateau has been a tinderbox of ethnic and sectarian unrest over land and power between local people and migrants from other regions.
In early 2010, around 400 people were killed in a week of sectarian and ethnic bloodshed in Plateau.
Security experts believe many attacks go unreported because authorities are keen not to stoke further unrest by making them public and because of the remote areas where violence occurs.
The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram has attempted to stoke violence between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria, bombing churches in the Plateau state capital Jos last year.
Boko Haram killed hundreds last year in its attempt to impose sharia (Islamic law) on a country of 160 million, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. The sect poses the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil-exporting state.
Reporting by Isa Abdulsalami and Buhari Bello; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Mark Heinrich