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The BBC's Ben Brown
"Devastated by rioting"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 14:09 GMT
Nigerian fighting spreads
Boy and soldier in Kaduna
Hundreds died during fighting in Kaduna
Tension remains high in Nigeria amid reports that sectarian violence is spreading in the south-east of the country.

President Olusegun Obasanjo is due to meet with the governors of Nigeria's 36 states in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis, which has developed over the move towards Islamic Sharia law in several Muslim-dominated northern states.

At least 50 people were killed in the south-eastern town of Aba, which was said to be in a state of anarchy on Monday night.

The fighting is now reported to have spread to the towns of Umuahia, Onitsha and Owerri, despite a tightening of security.

Mosque in Kaduna
Muslim-dominated northern states are moving towards Sharia
An official in the Abia state government was quoted as saying several people had been killed in Umuahia, after members of the town's majority Ibo and Christian community attacked people from the Hausa and Muslim minority.

Kano tense

The northern city of Kano, which has a history of sectarian violence is especially tense, but has remained peaceful.

Violence in the south-east erupted following earlier fighting in the northern city of Kaduna, which began when Christians demonstrated against the proposed introduction of Islamic Sharia law in the state.

Many of the Christians targetted in the Kaduna fighting were Ibos originating from the south-east.

Homeless people in Kaduna school
Many are still homeless after houses were burnt
As the bodies of slain Christians arrived in Aba for burial, gangs of Christian youths went on the rampage, attacking members of the local Muslim minority.

One eyewitness spoke of gangs of youths pulling Muslims out of cars and killing them on the spot.

Up to now, President Obasanjo's government has not taken a firm position on Sharia, which three northern states have signed into law and which several other states are considering.

Tuesday's meeting in the capital, Abuja, is the first opportunity for the president and the state governors to present a united front on the issue - and to assure anxious Nigerians that the security forces are able to contain the situation.

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See also:

28 Feb 00 |  Africa
Obasanjo visits riot city
27 Jan 00 |  Africa
The many faces of Sharia
17 Feb 00 |  Africa
Nigerian flogged for having sex
20 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Islamic law raises tension in Nigeria
22 Feb 00 |  Africa
Nigerian troops tackle rioters
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