Sixteen people were killed and 14 were wounded when gunmen opened fire at a party to name a newborn baby, police said Tuesday, in the latest violence between farmers and herders in central Nigeria.
Those murdered included the parents and the infant, residents said.
The attack on Sunday night happened in Nasarawa, a state wracked by long-running violence between settled farmers and semi-nomadic pastoralists who move with their herds.
The gunmen opened fire on guests as they celebrated with the family and their newborn baby in Numa village, in the Akwanga area of the state.
“The attack happened when some people were having a celebration at night,” state deputy police commissioner Umar Shehu Nadada told AFP. “The unidentified gunmen killed 16 people and injured 14 others.”
Numa, a farming village home to people from the Mada ethnic group, has been at loggerheads with Fulani herders.
Residents accused the herders of the attack, saying the men turned up about three hours after dusk to join the party.
In the darkness, they opened fire into the crowd.
“We believe the attackers are Fulani.. they pretended to have come to celebrate with the family,” said resident Emmanuel Kato.
“It was while the party was going on that they brought out their guns and started shooting the people, killing 16 and injuring many others.”
Kato said those killed included the couple and their newborn, as well as a pregnant woman.
Philip Gyunka, a senator at the National Assembly representing the area, said the attack was fallout of a recent conflict between the Mada and Fulani.
Nasarawa state, like neighbouring Benue and Plateau, are part of the “middle-belt” states that divide Nigeria’s mainly-Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.
The region has seen deadly clashes between Fulani herders and farmers over land, grazing and water for years.