Muslims & Christians Clash In Nigeria

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“We have received 16 dead bodies since yesterday. Eleven of them were buried yesterday and we are conducting a funeral for the remaining five. So far we have over 300 injured people, most of them from gun shots,” the head of Jos’s central mosque, Balarabe Dawud, told AFP.

He said the 16 bodies were recovered from the scene of Sunday’s fighting in the Nassarawa Gwom area of the city, which erupted when Christians protested at the building of a mosque in the Christian-dominated district.

“So far these 16 bodies were brought from the scene of the fighting to the mosque,” he said, adding that these were in addition to the ones counted at a hospital morgue on Sunday.

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“If some bodies were taken to the hospital, they should be counted separately from this 16,” Dawud explained.

The Red Cross said over 3,000 people have been displaced as a result of the fighting, but declined to give any casualty toll.

“So far we are still compiling list of casualties and displaced people. Therefore, we don’t have an exhaustive figure to give out,” the head of the Red Cross in Jos, Awwalu Mohammed, told AFP.

“However, from our records so far, we have over 3,000 displaced people, sheltering in mosques, churches and police barracks. We have also taken the injured to various hospitals in the city for treatment,” he added.

There is no official confirmation of any death toll.

Police and troops were deployed on Monday and a 12-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed in the Nassarawa Gwom district after the clashes.

Security forces searched cars and people on the street for weapons, residents said.

“Security personnel have succeeded in quelling the unrest and restoring calm in the affected area of the city,” Plateau State police spokesman Mohammed Lerema told AFP.

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“We have cordoned the Nassarawa Gwom district as a strategy to prevent the violence from spilling over to other parts of the city,” he said.

Jos has fast become the focus of sectarian tensions in central Nigeria, but State Information commissioner Gregory Yenlong said the disturbances had ended.

“I am happy to announce that peace has returned to the city following the restoration of law and order in Nassarawa Gwom by security agents,” he said.

He said the curfew would remain in force “to ensure that no security breach happens. The government calls on the people to go about their normal business without fear.”

The clashes began when Christian youths protested the building of a mosque in the Christian-dominated Nassarawa Gwom district. Houses and vehicles were set alight.

Under the curfew, University of Jos authorities told students to go home.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with some 150 million people, is evenly divided between the mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south.

Jos and other central and northern areas have been plagued by religious violence.

In November 2008, hundreds of people were killed in Jos in two days of fighting triggered by a rumour that the mainly Muslim All Nigerian Peoples Party had lost a local election to the Christian dominated Peoples Democratic Party.

State officials put the death toll at about 200 but other sources gave a toll twice that figure.

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Last month, at least 70 people were killed in clashes between security forces and members of a radical Islamist sect in the northern Bauchi State.

Another sect, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin”, staged an insurrection in July in nearby Borno State when at least 800 people were killed as security forces crushed the unrest.

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