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Four days of violence in Plateau State, ...

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Four days of violence in Plateau State, Nigeria

Country/Region: Nigeria, Africa

Around 20 people were killed, two churches destroyed and homes and businesses torched in the latest outbreak of sectarian violence in Nigeria's troubled Plateau State.

Jos_Attacks2_4X3.jpg
The site of anti-Christian violence
in a Nigerian village in early 2010

Attacks by gunmen on four Christian villages near Jos last Thursday night left as many as 13 people dead. This was followed by three days of violence starting from the University of Jos on Friday in which at least nine people lost their lives.

A Muslim was killed in clashes between Christian students and a procession of Muslims returning from a burial, triggering a series of retaliatory attacks.

Two students, a male and a female, were stabbed by Muslim youths; a soldier then opened fire on students - injuring seven - who were protesting against the assaults on their fellow classmates.

The unrest spread over the weekend into Muslim and Christian communities surrounding the campus. A six-year-old child in the predominantly Christian community of Farin Gada was shot in the stomach, reportedly by a soldier, and later died, while seven youths from the same place and 14 university students were admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds.

Homes and businesses were set ablaze on Saturday morning, and later that day Muslim rioters tore down one church and torched another.

A local partner of an international aid and advocacy organisation confirmed that some civilians had been killed by soldiers and said that "the military have been so compromised that Muslims want only Muslim soldiers in their areas and Christians are calling for only Christian soldiers."

The violence follows anti-Christian attacks in Jos on Christmas Eve. Seven co-ordinated blasts killed 32 people and injured 74 more, following threats to disrupt festive celebrations in the area.

It comes ahead of the Nigerian elections in April, when Christian President Goodluck Jonathan will stand for re-election despite calls from some quarters for a Muslim to take over the post.

Plateau State is in Nigeria's Middle Belt, where the strongly Muslim North meets the predominantly Christian South. It was the scene of several horrific massacres of Christians in January and March, 2010.

Tensions are rising once again.

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