Over 100 killed in Nigeria clashes


Sectarian clashes near the central Nigerian city of Jos today have left more than 100 people dead.

The latest unrest in volatile central Nigeria comes at a difficult time, with acting President Goodluck Jonathan trying to assert his authority and the oil producing country's ailing leader Umaru Yar'Adua too sick to govern.

Villagers in Dogo Nahawa, just south of Jos, said Hausa-Fulani pastoralists from the surrounding hills attacked at about 3am (2am Irish time), shooting into the air before attacking those who came out of their homes with machetes.

"The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes," said Dogo Nahawa resident Peter Jang.

A witness who visited the village counted around 100 bodies piled in the open air. Pam Dantong, medical director of Plateau State Hospital in Jos, showed reporters 18 corpses that had been brought from the village, some of them charred.

Officials said other bodies had been taken to a second hospital in the state capital.

Gregory Yenlong, spokesman for Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang, said as many as 500 people may have been killed but there was no independent confirmation of this.

Four days of sectarian clashes in January between mobs armed with guns, knives and machetes killed hundreds of people in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria's Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Jonathan deployed hundreds of troops and police to quell January's unrest, in which community leaders put the death toll at more than 400. Official police figures estimated the death toll from the clashes two months ago at 326. 

Mr Yenlong said the state government may consider extending a dusk-to-dawn curfew still in place after January's unrest.