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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 12:35 GMT
Muslim militia hits Nigerian village
Victim of violence in Jos beside his burnt-out car
Vigilantes rampaged through Jos
About 20 people were killed and several others injured when Muslim militiamen raided a Christian village in Nigeria.

The militiamen from one of Nigeria's main ethnic groups, the mainly Muslim Hausa-Fulanis, were beaten back by Nigerian security forces and the villagers of Dagwom Turu in Plateau state.

Map of Nigeria
Police said that the attack appeared to be in reprisal for the killings last September of hundreds of Hausas and Fulanis in the nearby city of Jos.

More than 3,000 Hausa-Fulani herders have been evacuated to a nearby military barracks to protect them from possible revenge attacks.

Police spokesman Ali Yusuf said the attack happened on Sunday in the village 50 kilometres south of Jos.

Guns and charms

Several of those killed were ethnic Hausa-Fulanis.

"The bandits were pursued into the Vom hills and about eight of them were gunned down by soldiers of the Three armoured division," the Plateau state government said in a statement.

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

Police said they had recovered sophisticated military rifles, machetes, bows and arrows, Islamic literature and charms from the militia.

The New York-based group, Human Rights Watch said that up to 1,000 people had been killed in a week of fighting between Muslims and Christians in Jos last September.

It based its report on eyewitness accounts.

The official figure put the number of dead below 100.

Human Rights Watch said both Muslims and Christians were to blame for the violence.

But the report said the authorities ignored several warnings from religious and other non-governmental bodies.

Signals

"Government authorities and security forces failed to take action that could have saved hundreds of lives," Human Rights Watch said.

"The Nigerian Government can't just sit back and watch this happen," said HRW official Peter Takirambudde in the report.

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

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

Since Olusegun Obasanjo became president in 1999, ending a long period of military rule, Nigeria has been rocked by many ethnic and religious clashes.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | Africa
Nigeria 'ignored' danger signs
15 Oct 01 | Africa
Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split
09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nigeria
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