Over 100 civilians in Nigeria lost their lives during clashes between Fulani Muslims and Christians, local officials say.

The deaths occurred in the central state of Kaduna when armed men opened fired in three villages in the state's southern district of Kaura on Friday, the BBC reported.

Authorities say the violence rose between cattle herdsman of the Fulani ethnic group and Christian settlers over disagreements about land and religion. The attacks were in the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi

"Fulani gunmen came across from neighboring Plateau state and just opened fire on the villagers at around 11 p.m.," Daniel Anyip, vice chairman of the Kaura local government, told The Guardian. "We are still picking bodies out of the bush but so far there is more than 100 killed."

Houses and people were burned, with most burned to the point where they could not be identified, Kaduna State Assembly member Yakubu Bitiyong told the BBC.  

Violence in Nigeria's central state has increased in recent years. Hundreds have died this year alone and thousands more have died from clashes between the mostly Muslim Fulani herdsman, Christian communities as well as local farmers, the BBC reported.

The violence is prevalent in the country's "Middle Belt" where the southern Christian population meets Muslims from the north, The Guardian reported.   

According to Human Rights Watch, 3,000 people have died in religious clashes in the central region since 2010. The group claims the local government has not made a significant effort to stop the violence, The Guardian reported.

The Nigerian government denies they are doing nothing about the clashes. The government also denies claims it is not doing enough to stop killings carried out by the militant group Boko Haram. The ethnic and religious clashes are not related to Boko Haram, whose mission is to form an Islamic state in the north.