MARIS GIDWELL unwinds the bandage from her forearm and removes a wooden splint. Two fingers are missing. Her arm shakes as she tells how, as dawn broke, she heard shouts warning the residents of Lawaru, in Adamawa state in north-east Nigeria, to flee. She ran towards a neighbouring village with her 25-year-old son. Tragically, men wielding machetes caught them. They robbed and wounded Ms Gidwell, and murdered her son.
The attack on Lawaru and its surrounding villages was probably carried out by nomadic Fulani herdsmen, a group that is scattered across much of west Africa’s semi-arid Sahel, from Mali to the Central African Republic. Many of those killed were sedentary farmers, mostly from the Bachama tribe. The incident is part of a growing wave of violence between nomads and farmers that has ebbed and flowed across Nigeria’s central “Middle Belt” since at least 2011.
Although strife between herdsmen and farmers dates back centuries, it has escalated sharply as climate…
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