LAGOS – Gunmen have killed 13 villagers in central Nigeria’s Benue state following a long-running “chieftaincy” dispute, police said on Tuesday.

The attack on Edikwu in the Apa district on Monday, also left several people injured and many houses burnt, said Catherine Anene, the state police spokeswoman.

“About 20 armed men invaded the community and shot sporadically at members of the community,” she said in a statement.

“A team of police officers was deployed to the scene where 13 corpses were recovered,” she said.

Anene said police had launched an investigation, adding that a dispute over “chieftaincy” matters was to blame for the violence.

“Edikwu… was experiencing incessant crises over chieftaincy affairs until 25 May when the Benue government convened a peace meeting, headed by the deputy governor, Mr. Benson Abounu, to put an end to the rancour,” she said.

She said peace was restored until Monday when the gunmen invaded.

Communal clashes over land rights, water and access to political opportunities are common in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 200 million people.

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