Σάββατο, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2008

Riots 'kill hundreds in Nigeria'

Riots 'kill hundreds in Nigeria'
In 2001, more than 1,000 people died in religious clashes in Jos
Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed during religious clashes in the central Nigerian town of Jos. A Muslim charity says it collected more than 300 bodies, and fatalities are also expected from other ethnic groups, mainly Christians. There is no official confirmation yet, and figures are notoriously unreliable in Nigeria, says the BBC's Alex Last. Clashes broke out after a disputed local election on Friday which has divided the town on social fault lines. Police have imposed a 24-hour curfew and the army is patrolling the streets of the town of Jos, capital of Plateau State. They have been given orders to shoot on sight in an effort to quell the bloodshed, some of the most serious in Nigeria in recent years. The Nigerian Red Cross says at least 10,000 people have fled their homes.
Contested election
The mostly Christian-backed governing party in Plateau state, the People's Democratic Party, was declared to have won the state elections. The result was contested by the opposition All Nigeria People's Party, which has support from Muslims. Violence started on Thursday night with singing and burning of tyres on the roads by groups of youths over reports of election rigging. Bodies from the Muslim Hausa community were brought into the mosque compound from the streets where they had been killed. The local imam told our correspondent that their number is "in the hundreds". The Christian casualties are usually taken to the hospital morgues, but no clear figure has emerged for the number of their fatalities. Despite the overnight curfew, groups in some areas took to the streets again, as soon as patrols had passed by.
Troubled past
In 2001, more than 1,000 people died in religious clashes in the city. And in 2004, a state of emergency was declared in Plateau State after more than 200 Muslims were killed in the town of Yelwa in attacks by Christian militia. Correspondents say communal violence in Nigeria is complex, but it often boils down to competition for resources such as land between those that see themselves as indigenous versus the more recent settlers. In Plateau State, Christians are regarded as being indigenous and Hausa-speaking Muslims the settlers.

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Hundreds of people have been killed in the central Nigerian city of Jos after Christians and Muslims clashed over the result of a local election, witnesses say.Umaru Yar Adua, the Nigerian president, on Saturday ordered the deployment of troops on the streets to contain the violence.Stella Din, a journalist based in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, told Al Jazeera: "Figures range from 20 to 200 for the number of people who have died, but no one knows exactly how many people have been killed."Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at the city's main mosque, however, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought to the mosque.
Election dispute
The riots were sparked after electoral workers failed to publicly post results of local elections held on Thursday.Homes, churches and mosques were burnt down in the rioting fuelled by rumours that the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) had lost the elections to the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP). The ANPP is considered a predominantly Muslim party, while the PDP is mainly Christian. The violence is the worst since the May 2007 inauguration of Nigeria’s president, who came to power in a vote that international observers dismissed as not credible.Few Nigerian elections have been deemed free and fair since independence from Britain in 1960, and military takeovers have periodically interrupted civilian rule. Jos, the administrative capital of Plateau state, had also been the scene of a week of violence between Christians and Muslims in September 2001, which also left hundreds dead.
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JOS, Nigeria: Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques Saturday in a second day of riots, as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa's most populous nation in years.Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at the city's main mosque, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought there on Saturday alone and 183 could be seen laying near the building waiting to be interred.Those killed in the Christian community would not likely be taken to the city mosque, raising the possibility that the total death toll could be much higher. The city morgue wasn't immediately accessible Saturday.Police spokesman Bala Kassim said there were "many dead," but couldn't cite a firm number.The hostilities mark the worst clashes in the restive West African nation since 2004, when as many as 700 people died in Plateau State during Christian-Muslim clashes.Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people.The city is situated in Nigeria's "middle belt," where members of hundreds of ethnic groups commingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.Authorities imposed an around-the-clock curfew in the hardest-hit areas of the central Nigerian city, where traditionally pastoralist Hausa Muslims live in tense, close quarters with Christians from other ethnic groups.The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region's two main political parties following the first local election in the town of Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausas and members of Christian ethnic groups doing battle.Angry mobs gathered Thursday in Jos after electoral workers failed to publicly post results in ballot collation centers, prompting many onlookers to assume the vote was the latest in a long line of fraudulent Nigerian elections.Riots flared Friday morning and at least 15 people were killed. Local ethnic and religious leaders made radio appeals for calm on Saturday, and streets were mostly empty by early afternoon. Troops were given orders to shoot rioters on sight.The violence is the worst since the May 2007 inauguration of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who came to power in a vote that international observers dismissed as not credible.Few Nigerian elections have been deemed free and fair since independence from Britain in 1960, and military takeovers have periodically interrupted civilian rule.More than 10,000 Nigerians have died in sectarian violence since civilian leaders took over from a former military junta in 1999. Political strife over local issues is common in Nigeria, where government offices control massive budgets stemming from the country's oil industry.

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