View Full Version : Nigeria ethnic violence 'leaves hundreds dead'

03-08-2010, 05:20 AM

Hundreds of people, including many women and children, were killed in ethnic violence near the city of Jos in Nigeria at the weekend, officials say.

They said villages had been attacked by men with machetes who came from nearby hills.

Troops have now been deployed in the area and dozens of arrests are said to have been made.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered security forces to prevent more weapons being brought into the area.

The attacks are said to have been reprisals for the killing of several hundred people in the region in January.

The AFP news agency reports that the villages are now calm after troops and military vehicles entered them.

An adviser to the Christian-dominated Plateau state government, Dan Manjang, told AFP: "We have been able to make 95 arrests but at the same time over 500 people have been killed in this heinous act."

Another Plateau state official, Gregory Yenlong, urged people to "remain calm and be patient as the government steps up security to protect lives and property in this state".

Many of the dead in the villages of Zot and Dogo-Nahawa are reported to be women and children.

Mark Lipdo, from the Christian charity Stefanos Foundation, said Zot had been almost wiped out.

He said: "We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered."

A resident of Dogo-Nahawa said that the attackers had fired guns as they entered the village before dawn on Sunday in defiance of a curfew.

"The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes," Peter Jang told Reuters news agency.

Some witnesses said villagers were caught in fishing nets and animal traps as they tried to escape and were then hacked to death. Mud huts were also set on fire.

Mass burials took place on Sunday and scores more bodies were laid out in the streets of the three attacked villages, awaiting further burials on Monday.

Figures given for the death tolls in the ethnic clashes have varied widely, sometimes to achieve political ends or to reduce the risk of reprisals, or simply because victims are buried quickly.

Jos lies between the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria and its largely Christian south.

Analysts say the latest attack seems to be in reprisal for clashes in January, which claimed the lives of at least 200 people and displaced thousands of others.

Hundreds of people have fled from Jos in the aftermath of the fighting, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

The clashes represent a challenge for Acting President Jonathan. He formally took over last month from President Umaru Yar'Adua, who has a heart problem.

Mr Yar'Adua returned from three months of treatment in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago but has still not been seen in public.