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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Arrests over Nigeria Muslim clash
By Anna Borzello
BBC News, Lagos

Map of Nigeria showing location of Sokoto
Police in northern Nigeria have arrested 43 people after two days of clashes between Muslim sects which left two people dead and many injured.

Shia and Sunni Muslims in the town of Sokoto have been in dispute since the start of the year over access to the two central mosques.

The predominantly Muslim town of Sokoto is home to the Sultan of Sokoto.

He is the spiritual leader of all Nigerian Muslims, who account for roughly half the country's population.

The fighting began on Friday as worshippers gathered at the mosque for midday prayers.

According to eyewitnesses, a group of youths carrying sticks, stones and swords tried to prevent the Shias from entering.

The situation quickly degenerated into violence and two people were killed.

A Shia primary school was also set ablaze.

The fighting continued on Saturday when youths set up barricades in central Sokoto and looted shops.

The police say the town has returned to normal.

Three killed

The underlying problem, however, remains.

The majority of Muslims in Sokoto are Sunni and make up the bulk of worshippers at the two central mosques.

They accuse the Shias of preaching against their leaders and want them to move elsewhere.

This is the third time the dispute has turned violent.

In February, three people were killed during a clash between the two sects while in April 21 people were arrested after Sunni youths threw stones at a banned Shia procession.

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