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LAGOS – Semi-nomadic herdsmen armed with guns killed 18 people in an attack on a church congregation in a central state of Nigeria plagued by communal violence, police said.

Hundreds of people have died in clashes this year between herders and farmers in central Nigeria in an outbreak of violence that has put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari less than a year before an election he wants to contest. The bloody clashes, linked to grazing rights and dwindling fertile land, have raised questions about the government’s ability to maintain security in the country. Moses Yamu, a police spokesman in Benue state, said the attack took place around 6 am in the village of Ayar Mbalom, in Gwer East local government authority. Sixteen persons were confirmed killed, including two priests,” said Yamu.

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