Dozens dead in religious clashes in Nigeria

Violence between Christians and Muslims in Jos said to have left 42 people dead, with residents blaming security forces.

    Religious clashes between Christians and Muslims in the troubled central Nigerian city of Jos have reportedly left at least 42 people since Monday.

    Jamastu Nasril Islam, Nigeria's main Muslim body, said 22 members of its community had been killed, while the Stefanos Foundation, a local Christian group in Jos, reported on Friday the death of 20 people.

    Residents accuse security forces of being responsible for most of the deaths.

    Most of the dead brought to the Jos University Teaching Hospital bore gunshot wounds, Doctor Stephen Yohanna, the hospital's chief medical director, said, typically a sign that security forces killed them.

    Officials with the police and military declined to comment on Friday on the violence.

    The violence began in the city, the volatile dividing line between Nigeria's largely Christian south and Muslim north, on Monday.

    A group of rioters had attacked Muslims praying over the end of Ramadan in a primarily Christian neighbourhood, using knives, machetes and bows and arrows, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said.

    The AP news agency reported that at least four people died on Monday, as witnesses said more than 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were set ablaze during the fighting.

    Though army and police units moved into the affected neighbourhood late on Monday, the violence spilled into other areas as the unrest continued throughout the week.

    'Middle belt'

    Jos sits in Nigeria's "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands and political and economic power. Much of the violence finds its root in economic and political issues.

    The government of Plateau state, of which Jos is the capital, is controlled by Christian politicians who have blocked Muslims from being legally recognised as citizens.

    That has locked many out of prized government jobs in a region where the tourism industry and tin mining have collapsed in the last decades.

    Human Rights Watch says at least 1,000 people were killed around Jos in 2010 and another 200 died at the turn of the year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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