Gunmen have raided three villages in ethnically divided central Nigeria, leaving at least 48 people dead in what appeared to be reprisal attacks linked to cattle theft, the military said Friday. "Villages attacked were Karkashi, Bolgang and Magama," Captain Salisu Mustapha, spokesman for a military task force in the region, told AFP.
Nigerian media quoted a local official saying more than 100 homes were also burnt, but the information could not be immediately confirmed.
Residents said the attacks on Thursday followed incidents of cattle rustling.
Herdsmen suspected to be from the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group were suspected to be behind the raids on the villages populated by the mainly Christian Taroks.
Cattle rustling often sets off violence in the region, located in the so-called Middle Belt of Africa's most populous nation dividing the mainly Muslim north from the predominately Christian south.
The villages are located in the remote Langtang area of Nigeria's Plateau state.