An armed man walks through the village of Bakin Kogi, in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria, after four people were killed in an attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen in February 2018.

A senior church leader in Nigeria has said that “rumour mongering” was at the heart of last week’s violence in north-western Kaduna state, which killed 55 people, reports Nigeria’s Daily Post.

Following the violence a curfew was imposed. The Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna, Rev. Mathew Ndagoso, urged citizens to refrain from spreading rumours and to avoid fuelling existing tensions in and between communities.

“As members of one nation, we must seek ways of understanding, of building bridges to one another based on a solid foundation of truth,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“Rumour mongering is responsible for the crisis and it is causing more deaths than guns in Kaduna.

“I ask that all reflect on the reality that violence only begets more violence. This suffering has gone on for too long and we beg that it be stopped for the common good.”

Southern Kaduna is part of Nigeria’s Middle Belt, an area that has seen wave after wave of deadly attacks by the nomadic, mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen on the predominantly Christian farming communities.

In some cases, the Christian communities have reacted by launching deadly attacks of their own, though the death toll has been far greater on the Christian side, according to figures by the Christian charity Open Doors International.

Between May 2016 and October 2017, 709 Christians were killed, 130 injured and 3,500 lost their homes in southern Kaduna, according to a report published by the charity in January. At the same time, 16 Muslims were killed and 220 lost their homes, the charity said.

A report published in July by the International Crisis Group said the conflict had become the country’s gravest security challenge, claiming six times more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency.