20 killed in mosque attack in Nigeria over land dispute

Police in Nigeria say at least 20 people are dead after a suspected
reprisal attack on a village.
Niger State police spokesman Bala Elkana said Monday that the Etogi
community mosque had been targeted the day before during morning
prayers.
The killings are believed to be in retaliation for the death of a
herdsman who was killed in a disagreement over grazing land. The
herders have refused to pay a tax to the village and are claiming
ownership of the land.
Land disputes are common in Nigeria, pitting neighboring communities
against each other and frequently resulting in deadly clashes and
reprisal attacks.
More than 400 people have been killed in clashes between Fulani
herdsmen and farmers in north-central Nigeria over the past two years.
Meanwhile AFP reports that Boko Haram jihadists have killed six
farmers who were working on their land near the northeastern Nigerian
city of Maiduguri, civilian militia members and locals told AFP on
Monday.
Gunmen on motorcycles attacked a group preparing fields for the rainy
season outside the village of Amrawa, 16 kilometres (10 miles) from
the Borno State capital, on Saturday.
“The gunmen attacked the farmers with machetes as they were clearing
their farms that have been taken over by weeds in preparation for the
rains which start in a few days,” said Ibrahim Liman, a civilian
militia member.
“They seized six farmers and slaughtered them while the rest fled.”
Liman’s account was supported by Masida Bunu and Rahis Musa, who live
in the village. Some residents raised the alarm and the militia
pursued the attackers to the nearby village of Sojori.
“The vigilantes fought the terrorists and killed four while the rest
fled,” Liman said.
At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million made
homeless in northeast Nigeria since the start of Boko Haram’s Islamist
insurgency in 2009.
Nigeria’s government and military maintain that the jihadists are a
spent force but sporadic attacks and suicide bombings pose a constant
threat, particularly in remote areas.
Saturday’s attack underscored the vulnerability of rural communities
even as the authorities are encouraging displaced people to return
home and rebuild their lives.
Northeast Nigeria is in the grip of severe food shortages after
farmers missed three rainy seasons in a row because of the conflict.
Crops have been destroyed and food stores looted, while farmers have
been either killed or forced to flee to safety in vast camps for the
displaced.
Most of the remote region relies on subsistence agriculture, but
domestic and international aid agencies are now having to provide
food, shelter and healthcare.
– ‘Ill-prepared’ –
The Nigerian authorities mooted a deadline of May 29 to close the
camps for the displaced in Maiduguri, though few humanitarian
organisations working there believed the date was feasible.
In March last year, Borno’s governor, Kashim Shettima, said about
950,000 of the 3.2 million private homes in the state had been
destroyed or damaged by years of fighting.
Schools, municipal buildings, electricity and water infrastructure and
health care facilities have also been affected.
Those who have returned to their hometowns have found themselves
forced into makeshift camps, with water shortages and lack of
sanitation increasing the risk of disease.
The insecurity has also affected food distribution, with about 5.1
million people in Borno and the neighbouring states of Yobe and
Adamawa said to be “severely food insecure”.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said Monday that more than one
million displaced people or refugees had returned to the region from
within Nigeria and outside the country since October.
But the NRC director in Nigeria, Cheick Ba, said the region was “ill
prepared” to cope given the level of destruction, echoing widespread
concern from international aid agencies.
In Damasak, in the far north of Borno near the border with Niger,
180,000 people had returned since December but they lacked the
resources to resume farming, the agency said.
The United Nations has said about $1 billion is required for the
Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa this year but funding so
far is well short of that goal, despite warnings of famine-like
conditions in parts of the region.
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Post source : Associated Press

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