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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Dozens feared dead in Kaduna
Soldier and murdered man
Hundreds died in February's riots in Kaduna
By Nigeria correspondent Barnaby Phillips

The army is patrolling the streets of the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, following an outbreak of religious violence that is now feared to have left dozens of people dead.

Many schools and offices in Kaduna are closed, although the authorities say the city is returning to normal.

The authorities have been keen to down-play this latest eruption of religious violence, desperate that it should not spread within Kaduna or to other parts of the country.

Hundreds of people were killed in Kaduna in February of this year, during fighting between Christians and Muslims over proposals to introduce strict Islamic law, or Sharia.

Officially, only three people have been killed, but one reliable eyewitness saw more than 10 corpses outside a hospital mortuary and was told the mortuary itself was already full.

Muslims are fleeing the southern part of the city after their houses were attacked and there are reports of attacks on Christians in northern Kaduna.

In a tragic repetition of February's violence, many people are seeking sanctuary in police and army barracks.

Segregated city

Christian and Muslim leaders have put out a joint statement appealing for calm, and blaming the clashes on irresponsible youths.

Since February, Kaduna has become an increasingly segregated city.

The mixed neighbourhoods, where Christians and Muslims used to live together in harmony, are gradually disappearing.

Thousands of Christian Ibos have already returned to their native south-eastern Nigeria, despite repeated appeals from the authorities for them to stay.

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See also:

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
28 Feb 00 | Africa
Obasanjo visits riot city
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