Death toll over 300 in Nigerian sectarian violence 

The Associated Press 
Saturday, November 29, 2008 
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 

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 

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 

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.


Associated Press Writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria, contributed to this 


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