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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Renewed fighting in Jos
Residents fleeing
Jos residents have been fleeing the violence
Fighting between Muslims and Christians has once more broken out in the central Nigerian city of Jos after a day of calm.

Nigeria's Red Cross reported that on Wednesday, the dead and wounded were being taken to hospitals suffering from gunshot and machete wounds.


It's a real war front. The sound of gunshots from the area is deafening. I saw at least one dead body

Jos resident
Casualty figures were not available but the state-run Daily Times reported that the death toll of the previous four days of clashes was at least 500.

Reuters news agency said that Muslim celebrations at the attacks on the US may have sparked the renewed fighting.

Reuters quoted a resident of Nasarawa district on the outskirts of Jos as saying: "Some (Muslim) people have been jubilating because of what happened in the US, and I believe that must have encouraged them."

'Afraid'

"It's a real war front. The sound of gunshots from the area is deafening. I saw at least one dead body," said the resident.

The BBC's Nora Amaka Dike in Jos says that she saw two people being slaughtered with machetes by a group shouting, "Allahu Akbar (God is great)".

Nigerian soldiers patrol roads in the city of Jos
Troops are patrolling the main streets of Jos

"I was afraid for my life," but then soldiers arrived and dispersed the crowd with gunshots, she said.

The Daily Times says that three trucks took at least 500 bodies to a mass burial under the cover of darkness on Monday night.

The French news agency, AFP reports that violence had again spread to the northern city of Kano, where a church was burnt on Monday.

Burnt churches

AFP says hundreds of Muslim youths attacked two churches in the Shagari Quarters district of the city.

Catholic catechist Casmir Ogunma said the Holy Trinity church had been razed to the ground and the priest's residence set on fire by youths angered by events in Jos.

A Christian, James Enoch, said that he was leaving Kano.

A family walks past a damaged church
Churches and mosques have been attacked in the communal violence

"I can't live here any more. These youths are dangerous. They promised to come back and said when they come back nobody will be spared," he said.

People are also fleeing Jos. Reuters says that tens of thousands have left since the fighting broke out after Muslim prayers last Friday.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned the violence.

'True believers'

"I wonder what sort of Muslims and Christians start burning churches and mosques - places where God is worshipped?" he asked.

"True believers in God cannot start killing other human beings."

The population of Jos is overwhelmingly Christian, but there is a sizeable Muslim community.


Some (Muslim) people have been jubilating because of what happened in the US, and I believe that must have encouraged them

Jos resident

There is also an ethnic dimension to the conflict, as many of the fighters on the Christian side are members of the Berom tribe, a group native to Jos.

Fulanis and Hausas - two of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups - make up a large proportion of the Muslims.

Relations between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria have been tense since the introduction of the Sharia Islamic law in 12 states.

In February 2000, more than 2,000 people were killed in religious unrest in Kaduna, and some 450 more Nigerians died in reprisals in the south-east of the country.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nora Amaka Dike in Jos
"People were shouting 'Allahu Akbar'. I saw vividly how two people were slaughtered with machetes
See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
11 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigeria's bishops confront Sharia
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nigeria
12 Oct 00 | Africa
Sharia compromise for Kaduna
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
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