THE NEWS BLOG OF ADRIAN AND WENDY HELLEMAN, ACADEMIC MISSIONARIES
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(Adapted from Compass Direct News)– Communal violence broke out in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Friday (Nov. 28) after Muslims began attacking Christians on claims of vote-tampering, leaving hundreds dead and thousands fleeing their homes. After officials reportedly refused to post local council election results on Thursday (Nov. 27) – prompting speculation that a party backed largely by Christians had won – Muslim gangs in the Ali Kazaure area began attacking Christians, according to local residents.Violence along political, ethnic and religious lines followed, with security forces said to be responsible for killing more than 300 Muslims whose bodies were later brought to one mosque.
On Saturday (Nov. 29) officials reportedly announced that the ruling People’s Democratic Party, backed mainly by Christians, had won 16 of 17 council seats, defeating the All Nigerian Peoples Party, said to be primarily supported by Muslims. Muslim militants burned several churches, including that of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the Sarkin Mangu area of Jos, and its pastor has been confirmed killed. Several mosques also were reportedly razed. Plateau Gov. Jonah David Jang said in a radio and television broadcast Friday night that the crisis was pre-planned by disgruntled elements who had schemed to manipulate religious sentiments to create instability in the state. Gunfire heard Saturday morning (Nov. 29) died down by the end of the day as the government sent troops to quell the violence.
But tensions remained high on Sunday as authorities had extended a curfew on residents of several districts of the city, with military guards ordered to shoot on sight. By the end of the weekend state officials said that 500 people had been arrested. There was fear that the rioting could lead to a repeat of the violence that hit Jos on Sept. 7, 2001, which resulted in more than four years of bloodshed, killings of thousands of people and displacing thousands of others. In 2004 an estimated 700 people died in Plateau state during Christian-Muslim clashes. Located in Nigeria’s central region between the Muslim-majority north and the largely Christian south, the state is home various Christian ethnic groups co-existing uneasily with Muslim Hausa settlers.