At least 18 people were killed and dozens wounded in clashes in Niger between cattle herders and farmers, officials said, adding that women and children were among the dead.
The violence kicked off on Tuesday morning after a herd of cattle wandered into a farmer’s field and damaged the cereal crop, a local official said, asking not to be named.
Such clashes are not unusual in drought-hit Niger, where food shortages and scarce water supplies inflame tensions, especially during the harvest, which coincides with cattle being moved to pasture.
“The clashes were unusually violent, it was very barbaric,” the official told AFP. “It was the death of the owner of the field, in the first altercation, that set things off,” he added.
He said a significant number of women and children were killed, without providing a precise toll.
The interior ministry said 18 people were killed and another 43 wounded in the clashes, which happened in the western Tahoua region, adding that homes were also set on fire.
It said in a statement that security forces had restored order and an investigation was under way, while calling for calm.
The clashes come nearly two years after 10 people were killed in the same region in similar clashes between cattle herders and farmers.