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Death Toll In Plateau Christmas Eve Attack Hits 195

Authorities had previously put the death toll at 163.


This image grab made from an AFPTV video taken in Maiyanga village, in Bokkos local government, on December 27, 2023, shows families burying in a mass grave their relatives killed in deadly attacks conducted by armed groups in Nigeria’s central Plateau State. (Photo by Kim Masara / AFPTV / AFP)

 

The death toll in the Plateau Christmas Eve attack in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi has risen to 195 as the search for missing persons is still ongoing.

This is according to the Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Musa Ashoms, who disclosed this on Thursday.

However, the Nigerian Red Cross, a Non-Governmental Organization in Bokkos disclosed that 161 deaths were recorded with 32,604 persons affected. The attack has affected 84 communities in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi and left 29,350 persons displaced.

According to the Red Cross, the coordinated attack left 301 persons injured and 27 houses burnt.

Armed groups launched attacks between Saturday evening and Tuesday morning in Nigeria’s Plateau State, a region plagued for several years by religious and ethnic tensions.

Authorities had previously put the death toll at 163.

During a meeting with Nigeria’s vice president on Wednesday, Monday Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos, Plateau State, said that 148 Bokkos villagers had been killed in the attacks.

At least 50 people were also reported dead in several villages in the Barkin Ladi area, according to Dickson Chollom, a member of the state parliament.

“We appeal to you to resist the temptation to succumb to sectional divisions or the poisonous rhetoric of hatred towards your fellow citizens, as we pursue justice to ensure your security,” Vice President Kashim Shettima told local officials and displaced people on Wednesday.

There are fears the death toll could rise further as some people remain missing, Kassah told AFP on Tuesday, adding that 500 people had been injured and thousands displaced.

He said that at least 20 villages had been targeted in a series of well-coordinated attacks between Saturday evening and Monday morning.

Gunfire could still be heard on late Monday afternoon, according to a source from the region.

[READ ALSO] Plateau Killings: Death Toll In Bokkos LGA Hits 148

Grieving residents gathered at a stadium in the Bokkos Local Government Area (LGA) awaiting VP Kashim Shettima’s arrival

 

 ‘Apprehend the Culprits’ 

A large number of the dead were buried on Tuesday, with the vice president of the Church of Christ in Nations, Timothy Nuwan, putting the number at 150.

“There are many people that were killed, slaughtered like animals, cold-blooded, some were in their houses, some were even outside,” he said.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday decried the attacks and ordered “security agencies to immediately move in, scour every stretch of the zone, and apprehend the culprits”.

Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang also called for “united efforts to identify and apprehend those responsible for these heinous acts”.

Northwest and central Nigeria have been long terrorised by bandit militias operating from bases deep in forests and raiding villages to loot and kidnap residents for ransom.

Competition for natural resources between nomadic herders and farmers, intensified by rapid population growth and climate pressures, has also exacerbated social tensions and sparked violence.

A jihadist conflict has raged in northeastern Nigeria since 2009, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing around two million, as Boko Haram battles for supremacy with rivals linked to the Islamic State group.

Tinubu has made tackling insecurity a priority since coming to office in May, as he seeks to encourage foreign investment in Africa’s most populous country.

The UN’s World Food Programme on Wednesday warned that conflict and insecurity, along with inflation and climate change, could sharply drive up hunger levels across Nigeria in the coming year.

AFP