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Christians and Muslims clashed in Nigeria, 11 said to be killed

LAGOS, Nigeria – Security authorities in Nigeria say about eleven people were killed at the beginning of this week when Christian youth clashed with a group of Muslims in north-western Nigeria.

A local police source said Tuesday that at least 17 others were injured during 48 hours of clashes Sunday and Monday in the village of Kasuwan Magani in Kaduna State.

Mukhtar Aliyu, police spokesman told media groups that the fight was mainly between Christian youth and groups of Muslims in the north-western parts of the country.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, police say15 people had been arrested in connection with the unwarranted killings, while several different types of weapons had been recovered, according to Aliyu.

Nigeria’s religious fight between youth groups

Nigeria’s security forces were still probing the cause for the clashes last Tuesday.  Meanwhile, local media in the area reported that the fight broke out when Christians accused their Muslim neighbors of trying to force some of the girls in the village to convert to Islam.

While the Muslim groups have not denied the charge, local police say this should have resulted in serious clashes and the loss of lives.

During the past decades, religious and cultural unrests between Christians and Muslims has been common in Nigeria, Africa’s most-populous country with an estimated population of 187 million people.

In 2008, more than 200 people were killed in two days of clashes between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria, according to the  Red Cross, during the worst unrest in the country for years.

About 7,000 people had fled their homes and were sheltering in government buildings and religious centers, the Red Cross said.   The governor of Plateau state, of which Jos is the capital, said in a prepared statement that troops had orders to shoot on sight to enforce the curfew in neighborhoods hit by the violence.

Majority of the Christians live in the resource-rich south, while Muslims dominate the poverty-stricken north.

In another development, Nigeria’s military has announced that it rescues 1,100 from Boko Haram.  According to the sources, the rescued persons include women and children, who had been held by Boko Haram extremists in different parts of the Lake Chad region near Nigeria’s neighbor Cameroon.

The government statement on Tuesday comes more than a week after Boko Haram abducted 110 girls from their school in Dapchi in Yobe state.

Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the operation spokesman announced that soldiers killed at least 35 Boko Haram fighters during the raids last Monday in the northern edges of the Lake Chad islands and the Sambisa region.

 

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.

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