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Clashes over Land Kill 40 in Northeast Nigeria - 2003-03-03

Nigerian police say at least 40 people have been killed in fighting between herdsmen and farmers in the northeastern part of the country.

Police say the fighting occurred in a land dispute between nomads and farmers in the Song district of Adamawa state, about 700 kilometers east of Abuja, near the border with Cameroon.

A spokesman said several women and children were among the victims, and seven policeman sent to quell the fighting also were killed.

Police say it was some of the deadliest fighting reported in the long-brewing dispute over land access between the nomadic herdsmen of the Fulani tribe and local farmers.

Police say the nomads began the fighting with an attack Friday on the village of Dumne, apparently to avenge an attack by farmers a month ago.

There was no apparent political motive to the fighting, but it comes as tensions are rising across Nigeria ahead of April's scheduled presidential election.

Human rights activists have warned that the election could lead to more tribal and ethnic militancy. More than 10,000 deaths have been attributed to ethnic, religious and political violence since military rule ended in 1999.