Nigeria_Unrest_News

AFRICA/NIGERIA

13/5/04
Calm charged with tension in Kano northern Nigeria after recent clashes. Fides sources say hundreds were killed in the violence
Kano (Fides Service)- “The situation is still tense although at the moment there is no fighting and the city lives in relative calm” say local Church sources in Kano, northern Nigeria, where Muslim extremists recently attacked Christians (see Fides 12 May 2004). “The police appears to have public order in hand. There were small skirmishes last night, but nothing very serious”.
According to Fides sources at least two Catholic churches were torched including the cathedral and compound and churches of other Christian confessions. Many homes and shops belonging to Christians were sacked and looted. Our sources say that hundreds of people were killed. But Nigerian authorities say 25 persons were killed.
The clashes in Kano follow violence which exploded earlier this month in Plateau state central Nigeria where at least 200 were killed in clashes between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian Tarok farmers (see Fides 6 and 11 May 2004). Christian extremists are said to have massacred many Muslim herdsmen.
In this climate of violence radical Muslims in Kano warned they would take justice in their own hands if the government did not do everything possible to identify and punish those responsible for the crimes in Plateau state. With regard to this new outbreak of violence one Christian leader in Kano said if the situation continues, Christians will move elsewhere to safer areas rather than live in fear. – (Agenzia Fides 13/5/2004)

12/05/04
Clashes in northern Nigeria. “At least one Catholic church has been destroyed by Muslim extremists” Fides receives dramatic report
Kano (Fides Service)-“The situation in Kanu is tense. The curfew in fo! rce until yesterday was lifted this morning but people are still afraid to leave their homes although police and army troop patrol the streets” local church sources in Kano told Fides. Over the last few days Kanu, in northern Nigeria, has been the scene of episodes of violence and Muslims have attacked Christians and Christian places of worship. According to Fides sources at least one Catholic church and adjoining parish centre has been torched by Muslim extremists and “very probably other churches and homes”.
“We know that many people were injured but not the exact number. It is difficult to have a clear picture of what is happening since it is not safe to leave the house. Groups of armed extremists have been seen in three other districts of the city. Yesterday, 11 May, rioters attacked the university destroying several campus buildings ” the local sources told Fides.
Violence in Kano follows on violence in Plateau state central Nigeria earlier this month in which at least 200 were killed in clashes between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian Tarok farmers (see Fides 6 and 11 May 2004). Christian extremists are said to have slaughtered Muslim herdsmen. “ Attacking the Christian community in Kanu Muslims claim they are taking revenge for the violence against Muslims in Plateau” the sources told Fides. Armed with machetes and knives the aggressors stopped cars looking for Christians and made people recite Muslim prayers to prove their identity.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on all Nigerians to remain calm and urged Muslim leaders to calm their people. “I ask you to stop our Muslim brothers because an eye for an eye will and a tooth for a tooth only cause our country drown in blood ” the President told Muslim leaders.
About 10,000 Nigerians have perished in tribal and religious clashes since 1999. – (Agenzia Fides 12/5/2004)

06/5/04
“This is not a war about religion” local Church sources in Nigeria tell Fides with regard to violence in central Nigeria
Lagos (Fides Service)- “We will never tire of repeating that this is not a battle between Christians and Muslims it is a question of ethnic identity and politics ” a local Church source in Nigeria told Fides with regard to reports of fighting in Plateau state, central Nigeria. “We must be prudent with our speech: we must be wary of speaking of genocide, as some people have called it” the sources told Fides.
Abdulkadir Orire Nigerian Minister of Justice has said that at least 200 people were killed in clashes Yelwa. The attackers used automatic weapons and many in Nigeria are wondering where they came from. “Peopel talk of fighting between Muslims and Christians when in fact the reasons for the conflict are political, social and ethnic” the sources told Fides. The fighting is among Muslim Fulani herdsmen who want to take better land occupied by Christian Tarok tribesmen
On 26 February this year at least 48 people including women and children were massacred in a community of the Church of Christ of Nigeria at Yelwa. Plateau State was the scene of violence in 2001 when more than a thousand people perished in clashes between Christian and Muslim tribesmen. In 2002 about a hundred people were killed in ethnic clashes. – (Agenzia Fides 6/5/2004)

27/05/04
Clashes in Plateau state, Nigeria
Reports have been received in Rome of Clashes in Plateau state, Nigeria, in which at least 48 protestant Church of Christ worshippers killed in church:
Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria: 48 worshippers, including women and children, were slaughtered on 26 February at Yelwa, when a church belonging to the Church of Christ of Nigeria was attacked by a gang of armed men who opened fire indiscriminately. This was the most violent in a series of episodes of violence in the past two weeks in Plateau state, central Nigeria. At least 100 people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes. Local sources told Fides that a gang equipped with modern arms has been attacking villages over a vast area, involving at least four districts and that according to eyewitnesses “the gang was not local and the operations appeared to be carefully planned. The attackers all wore the same black overalls and the attacks were obviously co-ordinated”. The army sent reinforcements and set up road blocks in Yelwa.
Plateau State has been the scene of violent clashes in the past. More than 1,000 people were killed in violence between Christians and Muslims in 2001. In 2002 the victims were counted in the hundreds. Rather than religious or ethnic disputes the clashes were over land claims and episodes of cattle stealing. – (Agenzia Fides 27/2/2004)