By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– At least 42 people, half of them Christians, have died in four days of clashes in Nigeria’s volatile central city of Jos, religious leaders and security officials said Friday, September 2.
About 20 Christians were among those killed by gunshots and machetes, said Abraham Hassan, a spokesman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in published remarks.
Additionally, corpses of 22 Muslims were seen in the city’s central mosque, Bloomberg news agency quoted Sabo Shuaib, spokesman for the Jama’tul Nasril Islam group, as saying.
Some locals said the clashes broke out Tuesday, August 30, after armed youth of a Christian dominated neighborhood halted a group of Muslims who had gone to a prayer ground in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, to mark the end of Ramadan.
Tuesday’s confrontation sparked violence that saw 13 deaths and the burning of at least scores of motorcycles, cars and some shops, witnesses and reporters said. The violence soon spread with dozens more killed in recent days.
It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence. Some locals accused ‘Christians’ of taking revenge for a string of bombs that exploded in Jos on Christmas Eve last year.
The Islamic militant group Boko Haram, or “Western education is a sin,” claimed responsibility for the multiple bomb blasts in Jos that killed 80 people. It has carried out a series of attacks against churches and other targets as part of its attempt to establish Islamic rule in northern Nigeria.
Jos, the “Middle Belt” between the mostly Muslim north and the largely Christian south, is a hot bed for ethnic and sectarian tensions between the two religions in Africa’s most populous nation.
The city and surrounding area has been hit by clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups that is believed to have killed over 1000 people within the last two years.
As soldiers were seen trying to restore order, religious leaders urged for calm Friday, September 2.
Jos’s Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama reportedly said Muslims and Christians should hold talks to end hostility while local Muslim leader Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir expressed a similar view.