Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Nigeria troops patrol in Jos after religious clashes

Nigeria map

Troops and riot police are patrolling the Nigerian city of Jos, after fighting between gangs of Muslim and Christian youths in the central city.

At least 12 people have reportedly died but the Plateau State authorities have yet to confirm a figure.

Houses, mosques and churches were set alight and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is now in force.

The city has a history of ethnic and religious tension - at least 200 people were killed in 2008 and 1,000 in 2001.

Dan Manjang, special adviser on media to the Plateau State governor, said it was not yet known what sparked the unrest on Sunday.

Some are in the church, some in the mosque... they are scared
Red Cross official Awwal Madobi

He told the BBC's Network Africa programme there were reports, which he found surprising, that it may have started after a football match.

"Thirty-five people have been arrested, five of them in military uniform. We have not interrogated them... but these are clearly people who took up arms against the people," he said.

Reuters news agency quotes residents as saying the violence started after an argument over the rebuilding of homes destroyed in the 2008 clashes.

Nigerian Red Cross official in Jos Awwal Madobi told the BBC families had fled the violence.

"Some are in the church, some in the mosque and the NDLEA (Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency). It's not that they are directly affected but they are scared and want to be somewhere secure for their safety," he said.

He said they needed blankets and food as they had fled empty-handed.

Correspondents say such clashes in Nigeria are often blamed on sectarianism, however poverty and access to resources such as land often lies at the root of the violence.

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