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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 23:14 GMT
Nigerian religious riots continue
Violence in Onitsha
About 10,000 are still sheltering in an army barracks in Onitsha
Violence is continuing across Nigeria where religious riots have claimed more than 100 lives this week.

A number of deaths were reported and churches and shops burned on Friday in the towns of Kontagora and Potiskum in the north and Enugu in the south-east.

Some 10,000 people are still sheltering in barracks in the south-east town of Onitsha after violence there killed 80.

Nigeria's 120m people are about equally divided between northern Muslims, and Christians and animists in the south.

The violence began last weekend with demonstrations by Muslims in the north against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad. More than 30 Christians were killed in riots in two mainly Muslim towns.

More than 80 people were then killed in Onitsha in two days of reprisal attacks by crowds of Christians armed with machetes.

Burned market

On Friday at least two people were killed in the northern town of Kontagora by machete-wielding Muslim mobs. At least four Christian churches were torched, Red Cross officials said.

Dozens of people were arrested in Potiskum in the north-east, where Muslim youths burned shops, churches and houses.

Policeman in Onitsha
Police have struggled to keep the violence under control

At least four people were killed there, residents said.

In mainly Christian Enugu, Christian youths attacked Muslims. One motorcycle taxi driver was reportedly beaten to death and a mosque burned.

Authorities in Onitsha say 10,000 people, mainly Muslims are still taking refuge in an army barracks.

The BBC's Alex Last in Onitsha says the Muslim Hausa market was the epicentre of the violence and is now a blackened mess of rubble, burned-out cars and contorted metal.

Many people were killed as they tried to cross a bridge. Witnesses said bodies were tossed into the river below, he reports.

The situation is now calm but the town is in shock.

In mainly Muslim Kano in the north, the spiritual head, the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, called for calm in a radio address.

"I call on all Muslims of this great city to remain calm and co-exist peacefully. We should not allow some flimsy misunderstandings to result in killings and destruction," he said.

Relations between Muslims and Christians - and the country's many ethnic groups - have long been tense.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in communal clashes since 1999.


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