Eleven Hausa Muslims were killed by an angry mob in Makurdi, in the capital of Benue State (central Nigeria), in retaliation for the attack on a church that killed 18 people.

“We lost 11 of us in this crisis, and five wounded were hospitalized,” Rilwanu Adamu, an adviser for Islamic affairs in Benue governorate, told AFP.

The attacks took place in different parts of the city and the balance could increase, some victims whose bodies were “burned”, have not yet been found, he said.

A shoemaker was tied behind a motorcycle and “dragged to the ground until death ensues,” he said.

“They also razed the two Makurdi market mosques after killing a chicken vendor,” Adamu said. “We live in fear now.”

The five wounded were rescued by soldiers before being lynched.

On Tuesday, two Catholic priests and 16 faithful were killed in the attack on a church attributed to nomadic pastoralists during a funeral mass at Mbalom, a village that is 50 kilometres from Makurdi, according to the police.

Hundreds of angry young people then took to the streets of the regional capital to protest after the killings, attacking the Muslim minority, mostly Hausa traders with no connection to the pastoral conflict that is shaking the region.

The states of central Nigeria are regularly affected by deadly clashes over land and water between sedentary Christian farmers and nomadic pastoralists, mostly Peul and Muslim, who are accused of ransacking farms with their herds.

This secular conflict for resources, aggravated by the population explosion in the most populous country of Africa (180 million inhabitants) has taken for several months a turn of identity and religion.

According to a report of September 2017 by the International Crisis Group, more than 2,500 people were killed in Nigeria in 2016.

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