Jos- The Nigerian police on Tuesday revised up from five to 17 the death toll in a raid the previous day by gunmen on a village in central Plateau state.
Plateau State police chief Chris Olakpe told journalists that five of the victims were burnt beyond recognition while 20 houses were razed.
Witnesses and survivors had described how gunmen attacked Shonong village on Monday in the Riyom area of the state, which along with neighbouring Kaduna has been plagued by communal strife.
The attackers burned houses, and killed or took away animals in the latest outbreak of violence blamed on long-standing ethnic divisions.
Local people had said at least 30 died, many of them women and children, and some 25 others were injured, but police had on Monday put the toll at five.
Witnesses said more than 40 houses were burnt by the perpetrators, suspected to be Hausa-Fulani herdsmen.
Olakpe and an army spokesman denied accusations that security agents failed to prevent the raid.
The police boss and army captain Salisu Ibrahim Mustapha said troops deployed swiftly to the area to repel the attackers.
Plateau and Kaduna lie in Nigeria's so-called Middle Belt, where the country's majority Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south.
Human Rights Watch said last month that more than 10,000 people had died in the two states in brutal tit-for-tat violence since 1992 purely because of their religious or ethnic identity.
Several thousand of those had lost their lives since 2010, the rights monitor added.