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11 dead in fresh Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria

By Christian Purefoy, CNN
Thousands of Nigerian women dressed in black protest aganst the recent violence on March 11.
Thousands of Nigerian women dressed in black protest aganst the recent violence on March 11.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Muslim herdsmen attacked predominantly Christian village near the city of Jos
  • Attacks followed the massacre earlier this month of roughly 200 people near Jos
  • Thousands of people in Plateau state have been killed in the last decade
  • Many say violence fueled by ethnic, social, and economic problems rather than religion
RELATED TOPICS
  • Nigeria
  • Plateau State

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Attackers killed at least 11 people Wednesday in a region of Nigeria that has been convulsed by violence between Muslims and Christians, an official said.

Muslim herdsmen, some dressed in military uniforms, attacked a predominantly Christian village at about 1 a.m. Wednesday near the city of Jos, close to where a machete-wielding Muslim group killed hundreds in a mostly Christian town this month, said Choji Gyang, special adviser on religious affairs to the governor of the Nigerian state of Plateau.

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The dead included women and children, he said. The attackers, from the Fulani ethnic group, also injured at least four people and stole 120 cattle from the village of Kyi, he said. Two people are missing.

The violence has put much of oil-rich Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, on edge, with rumors swirling of more attacks. Authorities in Lagos took the unusual step of sending a text message to residents to try to put them at ease.

"Please be informed that the story of Fulanis trooping into Lagos for the past three days to cause chaos is baseless," the message said. "All security agencies have investigated this rumor individually and collectively and found that there's no iota of truth in it. Be advised to go about your lawful business without fear.

"All agencies remain committed to keep our state and country safe. We are fully alert. Thank-you and pass this message onto others."

The attacks Wednesday followed the massacre earlier this month of roughly 200 people near Jos, a city in central Nigeria that lies on a faith-based fault-line between Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south.

A few weeks ago, Muslim attackers with guns, machetes, and knives killed people in several Christian villages near Jos in apparent retaliation for previous attacks against Islamic communities and the theft of cattle from herdsmen, Human Rights Watch said.

What's behind slaughter in Nigeria?

Thousands of people in Plateau state have been killed in similar outbreaks of violence in the last decade, said Corinne Dufka, a senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Though the violence often pits Christians and Muslims against each other, it has more to do with disputes over access to natural resources than religion, according to John Onaiyekan, the archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo also has said that the violence is fueled more by ethnic, social, and economic problems than religion.

"If you have one group or a community that has land that's been encroached upon by another community or even by itinerant cattle farmers, then the people who lay claim to the land will fight back," he recently told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"If there are job opportunities in an area, and persons believe they are indigenous to that area, and (are) not getting enough out of the jobs that are available, they will fight those who are getting the jobs."

 
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