At least 80 people were killed in an attack in northern Nigeria. Police arrested 7 suspects

At least 80 people were killed in an attack in northern Nigeria. Police arrested 7 suspects

Local authorities claimed Thursday that dozens of gunmen killed 80 people in north central Nigeria’s Plateau state, with survivors still looking for bodies.

Residents said gunmen attacked numerous villages in Plateau’s rural Mangu area on Monday and Tuesday. Thursday saw burials in Mangu, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Jos, the state capital.

The Associated Press reported seven arrests. “It was sporadic shooting across a vast area of different villages,” said command spokesman Alabo Alfred.

Despite being Africa’s largest economy and one of its top oil producers, Nigeria’s security situation in the north-west and central areas has slowed development.

Fulani pastoralists fought farmers for land and water after decades of strife. Retaliations occur in isolated places where security forces are outnumbered and outgunned.

Philip Pamshak, who has been helping with mass funerals, said Thursday that relatives in Plateau’s Mangu region cannot recover victims’ bodies in hazardous areas. “We had to run,” he continued.

Plateau Deputy Gov. Sonni Tyoden stated that as least 10 villages were attacked, citing local leaders he spoke to. After a resident complained about their animals destroying his banana plantation, locals suspected ranchers did it.

Survivors told the AP the assailants arrived in huge numbers and fanned around the communities, setting buildings on fire and shooting people.

“Tension was everywhere. Yaputat Pokyes, a survivor, said they macheted some and shot others. He said several residents escaped as the injured were treated at other hospitals.

Residents also stated security officers arrived a day after the attack, reflecting expert criticism that security forces sometimes respond slowly to violence.

Confidence MacHarry, from Lagos-based SBM Intelligence security outfit, said Nigerian security services cannot prevent or respond quickly to such attacks because their early warning system is ineffective and they lack weaponry and men.

MacHarry said the early warning system needs reports of the pending attack and a response mechanism to stop it.

Meanwhile, Anambra state police nabbed two suspects in a separate horrific incident. Violent separatists may have attacked a U.S. convoy Tuesday.

According to Anambra police commissioner Echeng Echen, three U.S. Embassy personnel and four police officers have died, raising the death toll to seven.

“The state police command and other security agencies are working round-the-clock, in concert with the Government of Anambra State, to find and rescue (two) missing embassy officials,” Echeng added.