WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — The Fulani herdsmen community in southeastern Nigeria on Thursday blamed "criminals and mercenaries" for an attack this week that left 20 dead and prompted vows from the government to crack down on violence between herders and farmers.
Local police said Monday's attack on the town of Ukpabi Nimbo in Enugu state killed at least 20 people, although local media reports have put the toll at more than 40.
Though the attack has been widely attributed to armed Fulani herdsmen, local Fulani leader Alhaji Ardo Ss'idu Baso said Thursday that troublemakers from other states were responsible and called on the government to help "deal with them."
"The Fulani community in the southeast is now working to fish out the bad eggs among us. We have lived here for decades peacefully with the locals until some bad eggs infiltrated us," he said.
Several clashes between roving herders and farmers in northern and central Nigeria have been reported in recent months.
Ending the violence is now a "priority" for the government, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the office of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The statement said the inspector general and the heads of other security agencies were taking "urgent steps" to investigate the latest attacks and bring perpetrators to justice.
Umar reported from Abuja, Nigeria.