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Nigeria: More Than 40 Killed In Religious Clashes

At least 42 people have died in the city Jos in Nigeria after clashes between Christians and Muslims. Bloomberg reports:

Twenty Christians were killed by gunshots and machetes, according to Abraham Hassan, a spokesman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, while the corpses of 22 Muslims are in the city's central mosque, Sabo Shuaib, spokesman for the Jama'tul Nasril Islam group, said today by phone.

"The whole metropolis is infested with weapons, Muslims and Christians are shooting at each other," Brigadier General Hassan Umar, commander of the military task force in Jos, said today by phone. "They're even shooting at our soldiers." The clash was triggered by a sniper attack on a pedestrian, Bashir Abdullahi, an eyewitness, said in an interview late yesterday.

The BBC warns that while it's easy to describe the clashes as religious in nature, they are also about political rivalry. They report that in the state of Plateu, Muslims support the opposition while Christians support the governing People's Democratic Party. The BBC adds:

Nigeria's main Muslim body, Jamatu Nasril Islam, said 22 members of its community had been killed while the Christian Stefanos Foundation reported the deaths of 20 people.

Our reporter says many residents allege the security forces were responsible for most of the deaths.

They accuse the army of using excessive force to end the violence, our reporter says.

The AP reports that the clashes started Monday after "a group of rioters" attacked Muslims "praying over the end of Ramadan in a primarily Christian neighborhood, using knives, machetes and bows and arrows."

Police moved in the but could not contain the violence, which spread into the neighborhoods. The BBC adds that Christian and Muslim leaders have asked for calm and said the two sides should hold talks to halt the violence.

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