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Hundreds held over Nigeria clashes
Calls for suspects to face trial in Jos over the violence that left at least 326 dead.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2010 20:21 GMT
Christian and Muslim mobs used gun, knives and machetes during the four days of violence [AFP]

More than 300 people have been arrested over clashes between Muslim and Christian communities in central Nigeria that left at least 326 people dead, police have said.

Many of the suspects in the brutal attacks have been sent to Abuja, Nigeria's federal capital, to be interviewed, according to police and security sources.

Mohammed Lerama, the police spokesman for Plateau state, said on Monday that those responsible for the four days of violence would be "dealt with firmly and decisively".

However, the spokesman for the state government expressed concern that many of those held following the violence were the same people who perpetrated similar attacks in 2008 but never faced trial. 

"We are afraid the same situation will occur again. They were moved to Abuja last time, but were never prosecuted," Gregory Yenlong told the Reuters news agency.

"As it is now, we hope those arrested will return to Jos where they can be prosecuted."

Justice demanded

In the aftermath of the clashes, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's vice-president, pledged that the organisers would be brought to jutsice "no matter how highly placed".

The opposition Action Congress party has blamed local politicians for the violence, saying they helped stoke tensions in Jos.

"These politicians who aid and abet these destructive acts for their own selfish purpose have always worked behind the scenes to shield those behind the senseless orgy of killing, maiming and destruction," Lai Mohammed, the party's spokesman, said in a statement.

"If the federal government is sincere about ending the violence, it must start today by bringing those behind the latest crisis to book immediately."

Hundreds of troops were deployed to end the violence, which some locals said was sparked by Christian anger over the building of a mosque.

However, religious leaders have said that the violence owes more to the failure of local politicians to address ethnic differences

Source:
Agencies
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