Authorities claimed on Sunday that the death of 23 people returning from a Muslim holiday in Nigeria was a premeditated ambush for which suspects have already been apprehended.
Violence is frequent in Africa’s most populous country, with roadways proving especially deadly as armed attackers and kidnappers target travellers.
President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement condemning the ambush of buses returning from a religious event in neighbouring Bauchi state on Saturday in central Plateau state.
Though the circumstances of the attack in the state capital of Jos remained unknown, some media speculated that it was the work of a Christian militia.
“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.