Nigerian police force. Dozens of people were killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria. Image Credit: File

LAGOS: Nigeria's presidency has reported "deeply unfortunate killings across a number of communities" on Monday.

Some reports state that 86 people had been killed in fresh clashes, while other media outlets reported up to 120 people killed in central Nigeria in fresh Plateau bloodbath.

Violence in central Nigeria erupted after clashes broke out between farmers and cattle herders, police in Plateau state said.

Some reports say fighting began on Thursday when ethnic Berom farmers attacked Fulani herders, killing five of  them.

A retaliatory attack on Saturday led to more deaths. The area has a decades-long history of violence between ethnic groups competing for land.

A curfew has now been imposed in three parts of the state.

State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of villages following the bloodshed revealed that 86 people had been killed, and six injured.

He said 50 houses had been burned, as well as 15 motorbikes and two vehicles.

The Plateau state government said the curfew would be in place between 18:00 and 06:00 local time (17:00 to 05:00 GMT) in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas "to avert a breakdown of law and order".

This region, where the ethnic Fulani herders in the north meet settled farmers in the south, is prone to tension.

It's not immediately clear why this spike in violence is happening right now. 

Nigeria's president has repeatedly blamed the escalation on an increase in gun-running from Libya.

Others blame security forces' failures in a country busy fighting two insurgences — Boko Haram in the north and militants in the oil-producing south.

The state's governor Simon Lalong said work was under way "to secure the affected communities and fish out perpetrators of these crimes".

"While we pray for God's guidance through this difficult time, we will do everything humanly possible to secure our state immediately," he said.