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Presidency describes killing of 23 commuters in Jos as ‘prearranged assault’

The killing of 23 people returning from a Muslim festival in Nigeria was a premeditated ambush for which suspects have already been arrested, authorities said on Sunday.

Deadly violence is common around Africa’s most populous nation, with roads becoming particularly dangerous as armed attackers and kidnappers target travellers. 

In a statement, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned Saturday’s ambush in central Plateau state of buses returning from a religious festival in nearby Bauchi state. 

Though details of the attack in state capital Jos were unclear, some media suggested a Christian militia was to blame.

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“It is clear this was a well-conceived and prearranged assault on a known target, location and religious persuasion of the travellers, not an opportunist ambush,” Buhari said.

“A direct, brazen and wickedly motivated attack on members of a community exercising their rights to travel freely and to follow the faith of their choosing.”

Plateau state governor Simon Lalong said security agencies had arrested 20 suspects and imposed a 6 a.m.-6 p.m. curfew in the area due to fear of reprisals.

“This is purely a criminal conduct and should not be given any ethnic or religious colouration,” he said.

 

Nigeria has been plagued by violence in recent years: conflicts between farmers and cattle herders have killed thousands, while a 12-year war against Islamist militants has led to an estimated 350,000 deaths.

On Saturday, about 23 commuters traveling from Bauchi were ambused and killed by unknown gunmen.

A military spokesman said in a statement that troops had responded to a distress call on Rukuba road in the Jos North local government area and had arrested 12 suspects, after an unspecified number of people were killed and injured.

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