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Barnaby Phillips reports for BBC News
"Many have been hacked to death, others burnt alive"
 real 28k

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips reporting fromLagos
Thousands of people have had their livelihoods destroyed, hundreds of buildings have been looted"
 real 28k

Saturday, 27 November, 1999, 16:27 GMT
Curfew for Lagos trouble spot


A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in part of Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, as police struggle to bring an end to ethnic violence.

Clashes which began at a food market in the troubled northern Ketu district on Thursday have left dozens of people dead.

As well as putting the district under curfew, officials have also ordered the market to remain shut until further notice.

Correspondents said the atmosphere there remained uneasy late on Friday.

"Charred bodies and broken bottles littered the road, which was deserted but for the police and a few pedestrians who could venture out," one reported.

Mutilated corpses

Police, who are under orders to shoot rioters on sight, have put the provisional death toll at 39, with 27 killed on Thursday and 12 on Friday. Other estimates are considerably higher.


We are getting the situation under control
Mike Okiro
The BBC's Lagos correspondent, Barnaby Phillips, who has been to the scene where the rioting first erupted, counted at least 20 severely mutilated or burnt corpses.

Reuters news agency quoted local residents as saying 15 children and their teachers had been butchered at a nursery school.

Other reports spoke of sporadic gunfire being heard after dark in some parts of the city.

Lagos police commissioner Mike Okiro told the BBC that despite a shortage of vehicles, manpower and ammunition, his men had got on top of the situation.

President Obasanjo: Battling to keep a lid on ethnic tensions
But our correspondent says that, although the police had instructions to deal severely with the rioters, they have often stood back, apparently too afraid to get involved.

The trouble involves the two most powerful ethnic groups in Nigeria - the Yorubas and the Hausas.

Virtually every Nigerian city and town has substantial Yoruba and Hausa communities living side by side.

In the northern - largely Hausa-speaking - city of Kano, police said they were taking precautions against a possible backlash against Yorubas.

Market dispute


We cannot allow this country to be overtaken by hoodlums and criminals
President Obasanjo
The violence started as a result of a dispute over which group should control the Ketu food market. It quickly flared into a serious crisis, with sporadic clashes in other districts.

Local residents have been appalled by what is happening.

" I appeal to our government to please do something because the life that has been lost is just terrible," said one.

On Thursday evening, Nigeria's president Olusegun Obasanjo, ordered police to shoot troublemakers on sight.

"When people decide to behave like animals then they must be treated like animals," the president said on state television.

The governor of Lagos warned the local media not to broadcast graphic pictures as he said they could help fuel violence in other parts of Nigeria.

But at least one private Lagos TV channel ignored the directive and showed pictures of people with terrible injuries from burns.

This is the latest in a series of clashes that have shaken Nigeria's new, democratic government since it took power in May following more than 15 years of military rule.

In July, fighting between the two groups left at least 100 people dead in two different towns.

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See also:
26 Nov 99 |  Africa
Nigeria: More divided than united?
03 Nov 99 |  Africa
Security tight after Lagos riots
09 Sep 99 |  Africa
Fatal clashes at Lagos port
24 Nov 99 |  Africa
Troubled Delta gets emergency aid
27 Jun 99 |  Africa
Seven dead in Nigerian market riot
19 Jul 99 |  Africa
Ethnic fighting follows Nigeria festival
25 Jul 99 |  Africa
Ethnic violence returns to Kano

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