Dozens dead in Nigeria religious riots

At least 25 people have been killed in the second day of rioting and bloody street battles between Muslims and Christians in the Nigerian city of Kano.

    Kano residents are furious over last week's massacre of Muslims

    Bands of Muslim

    youths armed with cutlasses and clubs burned houses and set up

    roadblocks to kill minority Christians to avenge the slaying of

    hundreds of Muslims by Christians in central Nigeria last week.

    A witness, Jackson Kentebe, described seeing at least 24

    bodies lying on the streets in two districts of town, some

    burned and others bearing knife wounds to the head.

    Police used live ammunition on rioters to restore order.

    "I had to give the shoot on sight order as the killing and

    mayhem was getting out of hand," said police commissioner Ganiyu

    Dawodu.

    He confirmed 30 people had died in the last two days, including 25

    on Wednesday, but a senior security source said at least twice

    that number had been killed.

    "If Kano people cannot tolerate us, we should be given six

    months to vacate. We can no longer be living in

    perpetual fear in a place our safety is not guaranteed"

    Boniface Ibekwe,
    Christian leader

    Police negligence

    Shortly before the riot started on Tuesday, Islamic elders gave the

    government an ultimatum to protect Muslims in the

    central Plateau state (where hundreds were killed by Christian

    militia in a land dispute last week) or face more violence.

    Survivors of the attack on the remote farming town of Yelwa

    said they buried 630 corpses after a two-day assault by heavily

    armed militia.

    It was not possible to verify the figure

    independently but police said "hundreds" were killed.

    The OPEC oil exporting country of 130 million people is

    split equally between Muslims and Christians and has seen more

    than 6000 killed in religious violence in five years since

    democracy returned in 1999.

    A leader of the Christian minority in Kano, an Ibo chief

    called Boniface Ibekwe, said Christians would prefer to leave

    than live in perpetual fear.

    "If Kano people cannot tolerate us, we should be given six

    months to vacate," he said. "We can no longer be living in

    perpetual fear in a place our safety is not guaranteed."

    Bloody conflict

    Sectarian warfare has plagued
    Nigeria in recent years

    Nigeria's Islamic leaders were outraged by the

    government's failure to prevent the Yelwa massacre, despite

    warnings from local Muslims that an attack was imminent.

    Muslims in Kano, 400 km north of the capital

    Abuja and the centre of Islamic activism in Nigeria, feel a

    strong bond with kinsmen in Plateau state who are

    mostly of the same Hausa-Fulani ethnic group.

    People of the Tarok and other predominantly Christian tribes

    in Plateau accuse the Hausa-Fulani of invading their ancestral

    land and the Islamist groups of wanting to drive them out of the

    state.

    But the semi-nomadic Hausa-Fulani say their families have grazed

    cattle there for generations.

    The Yelwa massacre was the latest outbreak of a conflict

    dating to 2001 when more than 1000 died in religious and ethnic

    fighting in the state capital Jos.

    At least 1000 have been

    killed in the past three months.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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