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Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Riots engulf Nigerian city
Woman running along a road
Northern Nigeria has seen repeated sectarian violence
Hundreds of non-Muslims have fled to safety in police and army installations in the northern Nigerian city of Kano after two days of violence between Christians and Muslims left at least 16 people dead.


People were slaughtered in Zangon. There cannot be less than 200 killed last night

Kano resident
A night-time curfew was imposed on the city, and state police commissioner Yakubu Bello Uba said police had been ordered to "shoot troublemakers on sight".

Other reports suggest the death toll in Kano could be much higher.


The Reuters news agency quotes fleeing residents as saying that as many as 200 people were killed during Saturday night in the suburb of Zangon.

Another report said that at least six of the dead were schoolgirls who had been on their way to sit exams.

Peaceful protest

On Friday, a peaceful protest had been staged against the US attacks on Afghanistan, but violence broke out when youths began setting fire to cars and religious buildings.

Police seizing young man
Previous violence in Jos left many dead
Although long-running battles between Muslims and Christians in the country have led to thousands of deaths in the past year, officials are playing down religion as the cause of the new violence.

Kano state government spokesman Ibrahim Gwawargwa is blaming the rioting on "hoodlums" hijacking the protest and looting shops owned by both Christians and Muslims.

Tear gas

The BBC's Dan Isaacs in Lagos reports that clashes spread rapidly to many parts of Kano, particularly those with large non-Muslim populations.

Security forces quickly moved in with tear gas and live rounds.

Although Kano is predominantly Muslim, it is also home to a large number of Christians and after recent religious clashes elsewhere in Nigeria, notably in the city of Jos, such an outbreak of violence in the north has long been feared.

Tensions between the two communities have increased since many northern states, including Kano, imposed Shariah law, or Islamic law, in 2000.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"At heart, this is not a dispute about American involvement in Afghanistan"
See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
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