Communal clashes in Taraba claims 30 lives

Clashes between rival ethnic groups have killed at least 30 people in eastern Nigeria’s Taraba state since they erupted on Friday, police said.

Members of the Jukun ethnic group were marching through the small commercial town of Wukari to a funeral when an argument broke out with local Hausa and Fulani youths, which quickly degenerated into pitched battles with guns and machetes. 

Attackers also set fire to around 30 houses, police said.

“Now we are in full control, although the crisis claimed 30 lives,” police spokesman for Taraba state Joseph Kwaji said, adding that 40 suspects had been arrested.

A 24-hour curfew has been imposed on the town by police.

The violence came a day after a panel was set up to investigate clashes in February in which several people died.

That violence was sparked by a row over which ethnic group was entitled to play on a football pitch in the town.

There is a long history of tensions between Nigerian Muslims, who mainly live in the north, and Christians who mostly live in the south along with followers of traditional animist religions.

But there have been increasing outbursts of violence, amid an Islamist insurgency in the north which has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.