- Published on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 09:52
- Written by Elombah.com
Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists on Tuesday claimed a weekend attack at a graveyard in central Plateau state that left at least 22 people dead, including two prominent politicians - a Nigerian senator and a state legislator. This comes as The governor of Nigeria's Plateau state imposed a curfew on the city of Jos, a fault line in volatile ties
among Christians and Muslims, after ethnic violence left scores of people dead over the weekend.
Governor Jnah Jang banned outside activity between 6 p.m. and noon to curb a spate of killings in Jos and surrounding villages.
On Saturday, paramilitary gunmen from a mostly Fulani Muslims swept through the area, shooting dead at least 59 people and displacing more than 300 as they burned village homes, said Nigerian Red Cross Spokesman Nwakpa O. Nwakpa.
Police and officials have blamed nomadic Fulani herdsmen for the raid and Boko Haram has in the past claimed killings widely thought to have been carried out by another group, in an effort to boost its stature.
But in a statement issued from purported spokesman Abul Qaqa, Boko Haram said it "wants to inform the world of its delight over the success of the attacks we launched... in Plateau state on Christians and security operatives, including members of the National Assembly."
Among those killed in the graveyard assault were federal senator Gyang Dantong and the majority leader of Plateau state's legislature Gyang Fulani.
"We will continue to hunt for government officials wherever they are; they will have no peace again," said the statement from the Islamist group that has carried out waves of assaults in northern and central Nigeria.
Boko Haram has also previously struck in Plateau, including a suicide bombing at a church in the capital Jos last month.
The Fulani pastoralists, a majority Muslim group accused of the graveyard slayings, have long-standing land rights grievances against the Christian ethnic groups who control political power in the state.
The funeral where the Sunday killings took place was for some of the victims killed in an attack the previous day.
Officials also said the suspected Fulani gunmen stormed several Christian villages in Plateau on Saturday, killing at least 80 people.
Gunfire could still be heard Monday, although residents say it was unclear who was doing the shooting—or if there were any casualties. Aid workers, whose movements have been impeded by roadblocks and curfews across Nigeria's north, weren't immediately sure how many people were hurt or killed in the attacks.
"People aren't moving around, so it's extremely difficult to know exactly what happened," said Mr. Nwakpa.
A spokesman for the state government, Emmanuel Abuh, said the attackers appeared to members of the Fulani ethnic group. A politically sidelined minority, the Fulani have for more than a decade fought for grazing rights across the cramped farmland of this part of central Nigeria. The Fulani are majority Muslim while their rivals are mostly Christian. Nearly 4,000 people have died in the conflict, according to Human Rights Watch. Other aid workers and officials also said the attackers were members of the Fulani.
Clashes between the groups have become increasingly sophisticated and organized. The attackers on Saturday and Sunday carried bulletproof vests and assault rifles, according to the Plateau government spokesman, Mr. Emmanuel. "They were fully armed. They were more than 500," he said. "Nobody exactly knows their grievances."
The Plateau curfew seeks to staunch the bloodshed, but it also threatens the economy of one of northern Nigeria's few remaining vibrant commercial arteries.