Friday, 28 January 2011

Nigeria: Dispute over billiards incites sectarian clashes

Nigeria's security forces have said that a dispute over a game of billiards incited sectarian clashes in the region of Tafawa Balewa, in central Nigeria, which left four people dead. The region has recently become a flashpoint for sectarian violence among rival ethnic groups.

The clashes spread into violent demonstrations which led to torching of 50 buildings, including five mosques. Police in Bauchi state eventually restored order using roadblocks.

Speaking about the clashes, Police Commissioner Abdulkadir Mohammed Indabawa said the dispute, which sparked the violence, occurred between a Muslim billiard player and the Christian owner of the table. The row was allegedly settled by local elders, but the table was later burned which prompted the argument to escalate into clashes between the two sectarian groups.

According to Indabawa: "The Christian youths accused Muslims of the act, which prompted them to go about burning houses and mosque…Clashes followed between Muslim and Christian groups and four people were killed as a result".

The outbreak of violence came the same day as the police announced that radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram, killed a police officer guarding a voter registration site in northeast Nigeria. The latest outbreak comes ahead of April's presidential elections, causing many to worry about the prospect of violence as Nigeria takes to the polls.

Sources: BBC News, NewsTime , France24, CNN, AP

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

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