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Nigerian Security Forces Respond to Surge in Attacks

 Map of Nigeria locating the central state of Plateau.
Map of Nigeria locating the central state of Plateau.

Nigerian authorities say reinforcements have been sent to a local Mangu district in central Plateau state where at least 30 people were killed in attacks this week.

Authorities say some suspects also have been arrested and that operatives are responding to a surge in violence in the region known for clashes between farmers and herders.

Nigerian defense authorities in Abuja told journalists during a media briefing Thursday that the killing of a local man by herders and an attempted cattle rustling triggered the latest violence.

The attackers invaded villages along the borders of the Mangu and Barkin Ladi districts, shooting indiscriminately and setting fire to houses and property.

Women and children were among the casualties.

Nigerian defense spokesperson Major General Edward Buba told reporters that security forces had been deployed and that some suspects had been arrested.

"As we speak, arrests are still being made," he said. "It is a developing situation, it's an ongoing situation; more troops have been deployed to the location. The situation is not above us to handle. We're handling it."

The latest violence came weeks after deadly attacks in the same area on Christmas Eve. About 140 people were killed, and many others were injured. Residents blamed the attack on Fulani militias.

Communal clashes between farmers and herders are common in Nigeria's Plateau state, resulting in thousands of casualties in the last few years.

Nigerian authorities have struggled to address the insecurity problems spreading across the country.

On Tuesday, Plateau state authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew as tensions over the attacks heightened.

But Mangu resident Joseph Bot said it was all talk with little action.

"They'll always tell you they're on top of the matter, but even among the security, we have bad eggs that connive with those attackers," he told VOA by phone Friday. "Sometimes killings will be taking place ... the security will not go and when you confront them, they'll tell you they're waiting for [an] order."

Nigerian defense authorities denied the allegations, stating that the military responds according to its rules of engagement.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his four-nation Africa trip, discussed the security situation with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

Blinken voiced the United States’ support for Nigeria. "The United States is determined to be and remain a strong security partner for Nigeria," he said. "I want to extend the condolences of the American people to all Nigerians who were affected by the horrific attacks over the Christmas weekend, and all killed in recent attacks."