As of Monday, January 8, intercommunal clashes in the Benue and Taraba states have left at least 83 people dead since December 31. State officials in Benue state have claimed that Fulani herdsmen killed 71 people in Guma and Logo local government areas from December 31 to January 6; police in the Lau local government area (Taraba state) said that at least 12 others were also killed in clashes on Friday, January 5, and Sunday, January 7, amid continued intercommunal grievances following related clashes in Adamawa state.
As of the evening of Tuesday, January 9 (local time), some ten units of the Nigerian Mobile Police, as well as Police Special Forces, Counter Terrorism Units, and conventional police officers have been deployed to Benue state to mitigate the ongoing violence. Heightened tensions between Fulani herders and farmers are expected to continue and further clashes are possible between the groups in the coming weeks.
On January 3, at least 1000 people reportedly held demonstrations and blocked roads in the town of Makurdi, the capital of Benue state, in protest of recent Fulani attacks on local farmers and the lack of a satisfactory government response.
Intercommunal clashes are common in Nigeria, especially between nomadic and settled communities. A recent uptick in attacks launched by suspected herdsmen on settled communities has followed the implementation of an anti-open grazing law in November 2017. These kinds of clashes have been known to break out in the central Middle Belt region - e.g. in Plateau, Bauchi, Benue, Kaduna, and Nassawara states - as well as in the south, where casualties are regularly reported. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that murder rates linked to ethnic violence are higher than those related to terrorism, also a major security concern in the country.
Individuals in Benue and Taraba states are advised to monitor developments to the situation and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
In general, the security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly concerning in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.
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