Around 54 killed by blast in north-central Nigeria

Photo: Jane Hahn/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a tragic incident that took place on Tuesday night, dozens of cattle herders and bystanders were killed and several injured in a suspected bomb blast in Nigeria's north-central region.

The incident happened between Nasarawa and Benue states in north-central Nigeria.

The spokesperson of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Tasi'u Suleman, said that a group of Fulani herders were moving their cattle to Nasarawa from Benue, where authorities had confiscated the animals for breaching anti-grazing laws when an explosion rocked the area.

“At least about 54 people died instantly. Those who were injured were countless,” Suleman said.

Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule did not provide an exact number of casualties, but confirmed that a bomb blast was responsible for the deaths. He did not comment on who was believed to be behind the attack, but stated that he had been meeting with security agencies “to ensure that we continue to douse the tension” that could be caused by the incident.

North-central Nigeria, also known as the Middle Belt, is prone to violence due to clashes between Fulani pastoralists and farmers, who are mainly Christian.

This is often painted as an ethno-religious conflict, but experts suggest that population growth and climate change have led to an expansion of the area dedicated to farming, leaving less land available for open grazing by nomads' herds of cattle.

The Governor's spokesperson, Abubakar Ladan, informed Reuters that mass burials for those killed were held earlier on Wednesday.