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News – Hundreds killed in Nigeria

February 2009

Hundreds killed in Nigeria

 

Hundreds of people were killed and an estimated 7,000-10,000 fled their homes in two days of rioting at the end of November between mainly Muslim Hausa people and mainly Christian Berom people in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

     Christian leaders in the state believe the riots were planned, and that local elections were used as a pretext for anti-Christian violence.

     A curfew was enforced by soldiers deployed with orders to shoot curfew-breakers on sight. By Sunday calm had been restored. Most estimates of the death toll suggest that 200-400 people were killed. Both churches and mosques were burnt.

     Plateau State lies in Nigeria’s troubled ‘middle belt’ where Christians and Muslims are in roughly equal numbers and there is a history of large-scale sectarian rioting. These riots often appear to be pre-planned attacks, with young people being paid tiny sums to participate in the violence and promised heavenly rewards for killing people.

     The Berom ethnic group is indigenous to Plateau State, whereas the Hausas are settlers. There have been tensions for decades between indigenous minority groups and the Hausa settlers.

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