President Muhammadu Buhari condemned Saturday's ambush that has killed 23 people in central Plateau state buses returning from a religious festival in nearby Bauchi state.

In this file image, burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquarters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State, Nigeria April 5, 2021.
In this file image, burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquarters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State, Nigeria April 5, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Nigerian authorities have said that the killing of 23 people returning from a Muslim festival in the African country was a premeditated ambush for which suspects have already been arrested.

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

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

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'Christian militia was to blame'

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

"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 AM-6 PM 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 militants has led to an estimated 350,000 deaths.

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Source: Reuters