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The cattle conflict pushing Nigeria to edge of a religious civil war

2018-06-18 11:35:00
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In the fertile grasslands of central Nigeria, the roar of a motorcycle is enough to instill fear in the Christian cattle herders stalked by an increasingly bloody conflict. The rev of an engine is the first sign that gangs of kidnappers have emerged from the forest for their latest sortie in a battle over diminishing farmland that appears to be drawn along sectarian lines.Across Africa's most populous country, an undeclared war, triggered in part by climate change and fought over cattle, has turned Muslims and Christians against each other in a confrontation so bitter it threatens to tear Nigeria apart.Fights over cattle have claimed thousands of lives in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, two states devastated by civil war. Militias raised by armed cattle herders have brought anarchy to parts of northern Kenya, killing farmers white and black.But nowhere are the consequences more potentially dangerous than in Nigeria, Africa's richest and arguably most important country. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, while farms and villages in many states have been abandoned, raising fears of hunger, economic collapse and spread of disease in camps for the displaced.The perceived aggressors are mostly semi-nomadic cattle herders from the Fulani, an ethnic group numbering 20 million people with territory across west and central Africa.
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