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April 30, 2017

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Fulani herdsmen kill

KANO, Nigeria -- death toll in an attack by Fulani herdsmen on a village in northern Nigeria's Zamfara State rose to 79 from 30, a governor spokesman said Sunday.

"The governor and other officials were today at Yar Galadima village where they participated in the burial of 79 people killed in the attack by cattle rustlers," Nuhu Salihu Anka told AFP.

The state police spokesman Lawal Abdullahi had earlier said 30 people were killed in the attack on Saturday when Fulani gunmen stormed a meeting to discuss security challenges in the four neighboring states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi and Kastine.

"We have been grappling with deadly attacks by gangs of armed robbers and cattle thieves for the past three years but this is the worst attack we have seen so far," Anka said.

A community leader in the village gave a higher death toll.

"We have so far buried 120 bodies today from the attack and the figure is likely to rise," Adamu Amadu said.

Police said they had deployed to the area.

Survivors said more than 60 people might have died in the attack.

"We counted 61 bodies from the scene of the attack last night, while many people were wounded," a survivor who gave his name only as Babaginda from neighboring Kaduna state told AFP.

He said he was lucky to escape with his life and implored the security forces to stem incessant attacks by Fulani rustlers on villages in the area.

The conflict between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers over land rights, particularly in central Nigeria, has persisted for more than a decade despite a series of peace efforts across several states.

Last month, some 100 people were killed in Kaduna state when assailants armed with guns and machetes attacked local farming villages.

Fulani leaders have for years complained about the loss of grazing land crucial to their livelihood, and resentment between the herdsmen and their agrarian neighbors has risen over the past decade.

Under Nigerian law, indigenous people have enhanced rights in their home areas, including preferential access to public education and jobs.

The Fulani claim they have been systematically disenfranchised. The disputes vary from state to state and often have a religious element, especially in areas where farmers are predominantly Christian.

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