Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Major clashes in city of Jos between Christians and Muslims

Clashes in the central Nigerian city of Jos have left at least 18 people dead. Almost all local shops and markets were shut down, for fear of more violence between the country's Christian and Muslim rival groups.

The streets of Jos are being patrolled by police armed with guns, more security forces are expected to be deployed in case of further outbreaks of violence. Speaking about the situation, a journalist from Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper said: “The whole town is deserted - the usually busy terminus area, where there is high commercial activities, is at a standstill; there is nobody there and all the shops are locked."

It is believed that the violence began when an envoy carrying Muslim wedding guests was attacked by Christians on Friday 7th January. Seven people died in the attack prompting Muslim youths to take to the streets in a bid to confront the attackers. Plateau State police commissioner, Abdurrahman Akano, confirmed that at least eight people were killed in the clashes.

"We received a report ... that youths blocked the road and attacked them inside their bus, killing seven people, while one escaped," said an official, from Nigeria's Muslim group Jama'atu Nasril Islam, Ahmed Garba.

There have been a number of conflicting reports, however, from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Coordinator of the Christian Stefanos Foundation, Mark Lipdo, said his volunteers saw seven dead Christian taken to a local hospital.

More riots broke out on Monday 10th January, in the suburb of Angoljos, inhabited by both Christians and Muslims, when an unidentified group took to the streets causing panic.

Hundreds of people were killed in clashes between Muslim and Christian factions in the region last year, and there have been frequent outbreaks of violence since. The latest incidents come only weeks after four bombs exploded in Jos on Christmas Eve, killing an estimated 32 people.

Sources: BBC News, AP, Reuters, Washington Post

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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