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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Eyewitness: Kano after the clashes
The city remains tense after the conflict
By Dan Isaacs in Kano, northern Nigeria

My Muslim driver Husseini gestures to me as we enter the city

"Look, it's Sunday and the churches are all open. The Christians are praying today, there is no problem."

We drove on towards the Sabon Gari area, a Christian enclave in a Muslim-dominated city, where much of the worst violence had occured the day before.

On route, life looked fairly normal in a dusty sort of way.

Cars and buses were on the move and people ambled along the pavements.

Little out of the ordinary it seemed.

Dramatic change

But with the army escorting our car through the first military check-point, the scene changed dramatically.

Soldiers peered into the car, automatic weapons slung over shoulders, tear gas cannisters strapped to belts.

Ahead of us was a deserted, urban wasteland.

Everywhere, there were burnt-out vehicles and smouldering buildings.

Rocks, stones and pieces of masonary littered the streets.

Upturned metal containers of all kinds were randomly scattered.

And rubbish, plain old rubbish everywhere.

It was not hard to imagine that the silent scene we were witnessing before us had less than 12 hours earlier been one of confusion, noise and panic for thousands of ordinary people looking to escape the madness.

Smell

The bitter smell of burning rubber from barricades of old car tyres filled the car.

he barricades were a crude attempt by the mostly Christian inhabitants of Sabon Gari to keep out the gangs of Muslim youths, some sort of frontline against the onslaught.


The damage is huge
And then further on, dozens more such barricades which must have filled the night air on Friday and Saturday with thick, acrid smoke as the two sides fought pitched battles through these streets.

We stopped our car outside a row of buildings burning, the flames still licking at the blackened walls.

And right in the middle, blocking most of the street, a petrol tanker on its side - a blackened skeleton covered in the ashes of its own destruction.

The explosion from this lorry alone would have been a beacon for all the people of Kano to see as they watched from afar at Sabon Gari burning.

Parting shot

A gunshot sounded in the distance and we quickly got back into our vehicle.

Perhaps a soldier's warning to a stray looter.


Soldiers are out in force
Few of the rioters had been armed with more than their own hands and any machetes or knives they could lay their hands on, which is probably why the deployment of the army had brought the situation so swiftly under control and why the violence had not spread further across the city.

But it is a feature of this vast country in which the flow of accurate information is so poor that rumours of fresh fighting travel like wildfire.

In all probability, despite the government's clear reticence to reveal to extent of the casualties, they are not hiding a great deal.

Scores of people certainly lost their lives over the weekend in Kano, but its unlikely that they died in their hundreds.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"At heart, this is not a dispute about American involvement in Afghanistan"
Amina Waziri in Kano
"Everyone is very wary about the situation"
See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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