Nigerian religious violence kills 96

By Dulue Mbachu in Lagos 
Published: 23 February 2006

Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian
city of Onitsha as the death toll from days of
violence between Christians and Muslims across Nigeria
rose to at least 96. 

"I've counted more than 20 people killed today," said
Isotonu Achor, who lives in Onitsha, after rioters
armed with machetes and shotguns poured through the
mainly Christian city yesterday. Residents said
soldiers had opened fire on a mob of ethnic Igbo
Christians that tried to enter the military barracks
after reports that ethnic Hausa Muslims sheltering in
the barracks had attacked a nearby primary school,
killing a number of children.

The claims could not be verified and it was not clear
if the soldiers killed anyone in the mob.

The deaths brought to at least 96 the number of people
killed in Nigeria since sectarian violence first
erupted on Saturday in the northern city of Maiduguri,
where Muslim protests against cartoons caricaturing
the Prophet Mohamad turned violent, burning down 30
churches and claiming the lives of 18 people, mostly

Similar violence followed on Monday and Tuesday in the
northern city of Bauchi, where witnesses and Red Cross
officials say 25 people were killed when Muslim mobs
attacked Christians there.

Bauchi was tense but calm yesterday, with police and
soldiers on patrol.

In Onitsha, two mosques were burned down and least 30
people were killed on Tuesday, most of them northern
Muslims. Thousands of Muslims with origins in the
north fled to the military barracks.

Nigeria is divided between a predominantly Muslim
north and a mainly Christian south. Thousands have
died in religious violence since 2000.

The attacks by Christian mobs in Onitsha were in
reprisal against the violence in Maiduguri and Bauchi,
which are dominated by Muslims. 


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