A suspected bomb blast in Nigeria’s north central region killed dozens of cattle herders and bystanders, a state government official and spokesman for the national cattle herders said on Wednesday. The incident occurred on Tuesday night between the states of Nasarawa and Benue in north central Nigeria.

The authorities had confiscated the animals belonging to the herders for violating laws against herding. A group of Fulani herders were moving their cattle to Nasarawa from Benue when the blast hit the area, said Nigerian Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association spokesman Tasi’u Suleman.

“At least 54 people died instantly. The injured were countless,” Suleman said.

Meanwhile, Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule did not give a death toll but told reporters that a bomb blast was responsible for the deaths.

It is also not known who was behind the explosion. Abdullahi said he had been meeting with security agencies “to make sure we continue to defuse the tension” that the incident could cause.

North central Nigeria, also known as the Middle Belt, is prone to violence due to clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, who are mainly Christian. The matter is seen as an ethnic-religious conflict.

But experts point out that population growth and climate change have caused an expansion of the area dedicated to agriculture. This has left little land available for open grazing by nomadic cattle herds.

The governor’s spokesman, Abubakar Ladan, told Reuters that the mass burial of the dead took place on Wednesday.

(With contributions from agencies)

You can now writes for wionews.com and be part of the community. Share your stories and opinions with us here.