Scores of people are thought to have been killed in clashes between pastoralists from the surrounding hillside region and villagers close to the central Nigerian city of Jos.
Police sources on Sunday put the number of dead at just eight, but witnesses reported many more bodies, with one estimate rising to more than 100 people.
Some of the bodies were reported to be charred and scarred by machete blows and the AFP news agency reported there were many children among the dead.
Yvonne Ndege, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Abuja, said: “There is conflicting information about the number of people who may have been killed.
“Police are saying about eight people have been killed but I have spoken to a number of people in Jos who said the number is higher.”
A reporter with the Reuters news agency counted 100 bodies piled in the street.
Witnesses said that the pastoralists staged an overnight raid in the village of Dogo Nahawa, firing into the air and then attacking those who came out of their houses.
“They came around 3 O’clock in the morning and they started shooting into the air,” Peter Jang, a Dogo Nahawa resident, said.
“The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes,” he said.
Ndege reported: “A senior police chief said the perpetrators of this attack came in from Bauchi state. The fighting exploded between herdsmen from Bauchi and villagers.
“The Red Cross, is reporting that as a consequence of this violence at least 5-600 people are leaving the area in fear of their lives.”
Nearby Jos, the capital of Plateau state, was the scene of sectarian violence which killed hundreds of people in January.
The city, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria’s Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, saw four days of clashes.
Source: Al Jazeera