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Week of central Nigeria violence kills 36, houses burnt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Violence involving rival ethnic groups in central Nigeria has killed at least 36 people and left dozens of houses burnt over the past week, the military said on Saturday.

The latest casualties are in addition to at least 23 people killed in attacks in the volatile region last week on March 20 and 21.

Security has been tightened in the area for the Easter holidays and a military helicopter could be seen hovering on Saturday.

Violence since Monday has seen ethnic Fulani Muslims raid Christian villages in Nigeria's Plateau state, an area where thousands have been killed in recent years in a cycle of attacks and reprisals.

Military officials could not give the cause of the fresh outbreak of violence in several villages, but such flare-ups often result from community disputes over land or cattle.

Plateau state lies in the so-called Middle Belt region dividing the mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north of Africa's most populous nation.

The latest attack occurred late Thursday in the Barkin Ladi area, said Lieutenant Jude Akpa, spokesman for a security task force in the region.

"Unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulanis attacked and killed nine persons there and three were injured," Akpa told AFP.

On Wednesday, an attack and subsequent shootout in the Bokkos area killed 25, with the gunmen again believed to be Fulanis, according to Akpa.

Two police officers were also wounded by gunfire, he said.

"We had 19 persons killed," Akpa said of the initial attack. "We sent in reinforcements... Six of the attackers were killed."

Violence in the Riyom district on Monday left at least two police officers dead when their patrol was ambushed.

At least 30 houses were burnt in the area on March 23, said Akpa, adding he could not confirm any casualties.

Plateau has seen waves violence involving the Fulani ethnic group and Christian Beroms, who see themselves as the indigenes of the state.

Separately, Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has carried out bombings in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, as part of its insurgency in central and northern Nigeria.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130330/week-central-nigeria-violence-kills-36-houses-burnt