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Nigeria Herders, Farmers in Bloody Battle

FILE: Herder-farmer fights are not new to this part of Nigeria. A man receives treatment at the Jos University teaching hospital in Jos, Nigeria, June 25, 2018, after clashes in central Nigeria between mostly Muslim herders and Christian farmers.

JOS, NIGERIA - The death toll following clashes between herders and farmers in central Nigeria's Plateau State has jumped from 30 to 85, a local official said Thursday.

Following the attacks on Monday in Mangu District, "85 bodies (were) recovered," the chairman of the local government council, Daput Minister Daniel, told AFP.

He said some people were wounded, without giving a number, while "several houses have been destroyed and many people are now displaced."

The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) also said "thousands of people were moving on the road" following the attacks.

The region lies on the dividing line between Nigeria's mostly Muslim north and mainly Christian south and has for years struggled with ethnic and religious violence.

It was unclear what prompted the latest violence, but tit-for-tat killings between herders and farmers often spiral into raids on villages by heavily armed gangs.

Juni Bala, director of search and rescue at SEMA, said their team visited the area on Wednesday.

"We could see houses that were still burning," Bala told AFP. "We couldn't go further because (the) youth were angry."

Police said on Thursday that they had arrested five people in connection with the violence.

"Heavy security presence has been deployed," police spokesman Alfred Alabo said in a statement. "So far calm has been restored to the general area of Mangu Local Government (Area) while monitoring continues."