Military: Gunmen kill 37 in central Nigeria plagued by ethno-religious conflict

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Nigeria's military says gunmen killed 37 villagers in overnight attacks on four villages in the central Plateau state riven by conflicts over land rights between mainly Christian farmers and Muslim nomadic herdsmen.

Special Task Force spokesman Capt. Salisu Mustafa said soldiers responded early Tuesday morning and recovered 37 corpses in the Barkin Ladi area.

Chairman Rwang Dangton of the Christian Berom youths' association charged that Fulani herders attacked the villagers. The Miyetti Allah cattle rearers' association denied that.

The attacks come after reports that farmers stole some Fulani cattle and some herders were killed.

The United States Council on Foreign Relations says 1,047 people have died in such attacks in Plateau since June 2011 amid fears the grievances of Muslim herders could attract support from Islamic extremists in northeastern Nigeria.