Nigeria: February 28, 2004

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At least 40 people have been killed in fresh round of sectarian fighting in central Nigeria, bringing the death toll in two weeks of tit-for-tat violence to 150. Christians in Plateau State turned on their Muslim neighbors on the 26th, to avenge the killing of about 90 people on the 24th by Islamic fighters in a nearby town (including 48 butchered at a church). The attackers in both incidences used cutlasses and swords, slashing their victims' throats and then burning their bodies. There were also reports of AK-47 toting youths in the area, adding to the mayhem.

The army and police units had moved into the area to evacuate about 3,000 Muslims from Gerkawa to Yelwa, now deserted by Christians who have fled to Shendam for fear of fresh attacks. Troops and riot police also put up roadblocks, to try to stop the fighting from spreading as threats of more reprisals raised the potential for fresh violence. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in communal and religious violence in Nigeria since 1999, 15 years of military rule ended with President Obasanjo's election. - Adam Geibel

 

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