Dozens are feared killed in fresh attacks on Monday by suspected Fulani militants on several villages in the Gashak area of the Nigerian central state of Taraba.

While police have said at least 15 people were killed in the attack, local media have put the death toll higher at 44. A number of houses were burnt and an unknown number of people have reportedly fled to neighbouring Cameroon, as well as nearby local council areas.

A police spokesman told Nigeria's Vanguard website on Wednesday that 'normalcy' had now returned to two of the villages targeted in the attack and that two people had been arrested.

Recent attacks by Fulani herdsmen have left hundreds dead and led thousands to flee from the largely Christian areas of Benue and Taraba States, which form part of Nigeria’s farming belt.

Such attacks have features long familiar to Nigerians: ethnic Fulani cattle herders, largely Muslim, moving in on farmers, largely Christian.

The long-running land conflict is frequently framed in economic terms, but it also has distinctive religious contours.

A recent in-depth report suggests that these atrocities against Christians can be described as "ethnic/religious cleansing", with features of “genocide”.

According to an aid worker in Benue, the situation in the Middle Belt is comparable to the damage caused by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, but has drawn little international attention.

- with World Watch Monitor