Page last updated at 18:53 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Nigeria women protest at Jos killings

Protesters in Abuja, 11/03
Women in Abuja carried pictures of dead children

Hundreds of women have taken to the streets of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and the central city of Jos in rallies against Sunday's massacre near Jos.

The women, mostly dressed in black, demanded that the government protect women and children better.

At least 109 people were killed in the ethnic clashes near Jos. Many were said to be women and children.

Survivors have told the BBC how they saw relatives and friends hacked down with machetes and their bodies burnt.

Witnesses and officials say the perpetrators came from the mainly Muslim Fulani group. Most of the victims were Christians from the Berom group.


The attacks appear to be retaliation for violence in the villages around Jos in January, when most of the victims were said to be Muslim.

The women in Jos carried placards proclaiming: "Stop killing our future; Bloodshed in the Plateau [State] must stop."

They marched carrying Bibles, wooden crosses or branches of mango trees, chanting: "No more soldiers."

Mass grave

Christian pastor Esther Ebanga told the crowds of women: "Enough is enough."

"All we are asking is that our children and women should not be killed any more. We demand justice," the AFP news agency quoted her as saying.

Map of Nigeria showing Jos
Deadly riots in 2001, 2008 and 2010
City divided into Christian and Muslim areas
Divisions accentuated by system of classifying people as indigenes and settlers
Hausa-speaking Muslims living in Jos for decades are still classified as settlers
Settlers find it difficult to stand for election
Communities divided along party lines: Christians mostly back the ruling PDP; Muslims generally supporting the opposition ANPP

Meanwhile in Abuja, women staged a similar rally, carrying pictures of the dead.

Risika Razak, one of the leaders of the protest, said she wanted to show the government that "things are not going right".

"They should beef up security in troubled areas so that we would be able to know that people that go to bed will wake up the next day and life will continue," she said.

Officials and religious leaders have accused the military of not acting quickly enough to prevent the massacre.

But on Thursday, the commander of the regional task force, Major General Salih Maina, rebuffed the criticism.

He said the army was told of the violence only after it had happened.

Earlier, the BBC's Komla Dumor visited a mass grave in the village of Dogo-Nahawa where more than 100 bodies from one village had been buried.

One community leader in the village told the BBC how his five-year-old granddaughter had been hacked to death with a machete.

Like earlier eyewitness accounts, he said the violence started with gunfire.

"People were running helter-skelter because of this.... They had never heard something like this before.

"People that were running and run into them, and they were macheted."

The authorities have arrested about 200 people and charged 49 with murder.

Although the clashes take place between Muslims and Christians, observers say the underlying causes are economic and political.

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