At least 18 people have been slain in attacks central Nigeria, in the latest breakout of inter-religious violence that has killed thousands over the past decade.

Authorities in Plateau State said people with machetes on Tuesday killed 13 people, including women and children.  The attack took place before dawn in the majority Christian village of Kuru Wareng.

Five other people were killed in a separate attack Tuesday in the nearby area of Barakin Ladi.

The two sites are located in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt, where the mostly Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south.

Nearby is the city of Jos, where at least 80 people died in a wave of Christmas Eve bombings claimed by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.  

Nigerian authorities say the attacks were intended to inflame tensions between Muslims and Christians before April's scheduled presidential election.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.