JOS, Nigeria: Gunmen on Wednesday killed at least nine people and set fire to dozens of houses in central Nigeria, the army and police said, in the latest violence to hit the region.
The early morning raid happened in four mostly Christian communities in the Riyom local government area of Plateau state, which has seen a spate of sectarian attacks over recent years.
Large numbers of attackers "succeeded in killing nine people and burnt 24 houses", military special task force spokesman Captain Salisu Ibrahim Mustapha told reporters.
Plateau state police spokeswoman Felicia Anslem also confirmed that nine people were killed in the attack, although local people put the death toll at 16.
Local lawmaker Daniel Dem, who represents the area, added that most of the victims were women and children.
Last month, gunmen killed 13 people, including nine children, in a raid on a village in Rapyem, also in Plateau.
Plateau and neighbouring Kaduna state fall in Nigeria's so-called Middle Belt on the dividing line between the mainly Christian south and predominantly Muslim north.
Mostly Muslim herdsmen from the Fulani-Hausa ethnic group have previously been blamed for scores of attacks on mainly Christian agriculturalists from the Berom ethnic community.
The Fulani-Hausa have likewise complained of reprisals from Christian groups.
Human Rights Watch said in a report published in December that more than 10,000 people had died in the two states in tit-for-tat religious, ethnic or sectarian violence since 1992.