Twenty-two people traveling from a religious event have been killed by a mob in the latest sectarian violence to hit Jos in north central Nigeria.
The police spokesman in Plateau state, Ubah Ogaba, said in a statement on Sunday that the victims, who were Muslims, were attacked on Saturday by people suspected to be youths from the Irigwe ethnic group.
“Unfortunately, 22 persons were killed and 14 injured in the attack,” Ogaba said, adding that some people have been arrested.
The victims, who were traveling in a convoy of five buses, had run into a group of Irigwe youths who were protesting killings by Muslim Fulani cattle herders in the area.
The incident is suspected to be a retaliation by the Irigwes in what is seen as a case of mistaken identity.
The Muslims killed in the incident were not Fulanis but were from the Yoruba ethnic group. They were travelling back home about 700 kilometres away.
Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, to where the victims were travelling, described the attack as “a case of mistaken identity,” adding that the victims took a route where crises between Christians and Muslims had ensued for some time and they might have been mistaken for aggressors.
Muslim Fulani migrant cattle herders are locked in a bitter land dispute with several indigenous Christian groups like the Irigwes in central Nigeria and the Yorubas and Igbos in the southern part of the country.
The crisis has taken on a sectarian dimension over the years, with Christians accusing the Fulanis of carrying out a religious war against them.
Religious conflicts are common in Nigeria, a country whose 200 million people are almost equally divided between Christians and Muslims.