Nigerian violence flares: 510feared dead

 Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, TheBlack Business Journal and

September 13, 2001- ARMED mobs went on the rampage in two Nigeriancities on Wednesday in clashes between Christians and Muslims and anewspaper reported at least 500 people had died in five days ofviolence. Clashes which erupted on Friday in the central city of Josbetween rampaging gangs of Christian and Muslim youths flared againon Wednesday after a day of calm, health workers and residentssaid.

"Renewedfighting broke out this morning in the Nassarawa district," of Jos,said the acting secretary-general of the Nigerian Red Cross, AbiodunOrebiyi. Dead and wounded had been taken to hospitals sufferingmachete and gunshot wounds, he said, declining to give firmfigures.

A Nigerian newspaper, the state-run Daily Times, reported onWednesday that more than 500 victims of the violence in Jos had beengiven a mass burial, after dark, late on Monday.

The bodies were taken to the Zaria Road cemetery in three trucksby heavily armed soldiers and buried under supervision of governmentofficials.

The area was cordoned off to prevent news of the toll emerging andsparking reprisals, the paper said. Officials on Wednesday September12, 2001 declined to comment on the toll - the highest yet advancedfor the violence - though Biodun confirmed that a "very large" massburial had taken place.

Meanwhile, the new fighting in Jos continued into Friday,September 14. "It is getting bad now in Jos. The Muslims haveregrouped and they are fighting," said a Christian resident reachedby phone who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"More houses are getting burned. More people are getting killed,"said the man who would give his name only as Oliver. "Things aregetting tough. The tension is very high. Soldiers are patrolling andfiring in the air to bring the situation under control," a policeofficial said.

At the same time, violence also erupted in the northern city ofKano where hundreds of Muslim youths attacked two churches overnightand set ablaze the house of a Christian man, in an apparent responseto the violence in Jos.

The Holy Trinity Catholic Church and the Overcomers SanctuaryPentecostal Church in the Shagari Quarters district of Kano, wereboth attacked overnight, the church leaders reported.

Catholic catechist Casmir Ogunma said the Holy Trinity church hadbeen razed and the priest's residence set ablaze by youths angered bythe events in Jos. Police had cordoned off the area around the churchWednesday and would not allow news agencies to visit the site.

Pastor Seyi Oluwasola of the Overcomes Sanctuary, who showed theAFP correspondent in Kano round the premises, said a mob of Muslimyouths had attacked the church, destroyed instruments and religiousbooks. "If it were not for the intervention of the police thesituation would have been worse, he said.

James Enoch, a Christian, said he was leaving the city. "I can'tlive here any more. These youths are dangerous. They promised to comeback and said when they come back nobody will be spared," he said.-

To far north of Jos, thehistoric city of Kano faced its own violence with a church set onfire, allegedly by Muslim youths. James Alalade, a pastor of theburnt church in Kano, told Reuters "They just came in with theirweapons and petrol in cans and asked everybody out before setting thechurch ablaze. ...they were heavily armed."
The Jos conflict are said to reflect clashes between Christians andMuslims and communal squabbles. Thousands flee for safety against thebackground of the introduction of the Islamic Sharia law into thepenal codes of some northern states. At least 1000 people wereinjured in Jos, the hospitable city of four million people.
USAfricaonline with AFPreport.

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