Nigerian authorities say armed groups known as ‘bandits’ hit 20 communities and injure more than 300 people.
Armed groups have killed more than 100 people in a string of attacks targeting towns across central Nigeria, another deadly episode in a region with persistent religious and ethnic tensions.
Local officials on Monday said the toll of the weekend attacks by armed groups, sometimes called “bandits”, has risen to 113, increasing sharply from the government’s initial count of 16.
“As many as 113 persons have been confirmed killed as Saturday hostilities persisted to early hours of Monday,” Monday Kassah, head of the local government in Bokkos in Plateau State, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Kassah said the “well-coordinated” attacks, which also injured more than 300 people, targeted at least 20 communities across the region.
“Proactive measures will be taken by the government to curb ongoing attacks against innocent civilians,” said Gyang Bere, a spokesperson for Plateau Governor Caleb Mutfwang.
Kassah did not say who was responsible for the attacks but noted that the injured were taken to hospital.
Plateau is one of several states that make up the ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt in Nigeria, where climate change and expanding agriculture has strained communities and increased tensions between Muslim herders and Christian farmers.
Hundreds of people have been killed in cases of intercommunal violence in recent years.
After the weekend attacks, the rights group Amnesty International said authorities in the West African nation “have been failing to end frequent deadly attacks on rural communities of Plateau state”.
Conflict has continued to roil the country’s northern and central regions, where armed groups are active and government forces have been accused of committing abuses.
This month, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation after a military drone strike killed 85 civilians gathered for a religious celebration.
Tinubu lamented what he called the “bombing mishap”.
Kaduna Governor Uba Sani said at the time that the civilians were mistakenly killed by a drone targeting “terrorists and bandits”.
Al Jazeera and news agencies