A local report revealed that the violence started on Tuesday morning after a herd of cattle wandered into a farmer’s field and damaged the cereal crop.
“The clashes were unusually violent, it was very barbaric,” the official told AFP. “It was the death of the owner of the field, in the first altercation, that set things off,” he added.
The official, who craved for anonymity, added that a significant number of women and children were killed, though the toll was not provided in detail.
While the interior ministry confirmed that 18 people were killed and another 43 wounded in the clashes, which happened in the western Tahoua region.
The ministry also stated that homes were set ablaze during the encounter.
In a statement, the ministry added that security forces had restored order and an investigation was under way, while calling for calm.
The clashes come nearly two years after 10 people were killed in the same region in similar clashes between herdsmen and farmers.