Nigeria’s army said on Thursday that they have arrested 17 people in connection with the killing of more than 200 people in the central state of Plateau.
The recent clashes between cattle farmers and herders have put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the violence, as he works to secure a second term in the 2019 presidential polls.
Rising insecurity in the so-called “Middle Belt” is shaping up to be a key election issue, with predictions the extent of the violence could eclipse that of Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency.
Army spokesman Major Adam Umar said three of the arrests were linked to killings in the Barikin Ladi area, while the other 14 were arrested in connection with the deaths of travellers in the south of the state capital, Jos.
“We all know that some days back, some villages in Barikin Ladi were attacked and these three suspects were arrested in connection with that,” Umar said.
“As our men were repelling the attacks in those areas, we arrested these three suspects with four rifles, three locally made guns and one AK47,” he added.
The clashes are rooted in tensions over access to land between the pastoral herders and sedentary farmers but have also generated sectarian friction between Muslims and Christians.
Police and army reinforcements have been sent to Plateau to improve security, while a dusk-to-dawn curfew remained in place in areas of the state to restore calm.