More than 100 dead in Nigeria

Last updated 00:49 17/03/2014
Reuters

At least seven people are killed in a stampede among job-seekers at a recruitment drive in the Nigerian capital. Sarah Toms reports.

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Gunmen killed more than 100 people in an attack on three villages in central Nigeria, an area where longstanding disputes over land, religion and ethnicity often erupt into violence, two local government officials said on Sunday.

Police confirmed the raids by Fulani herdsman late on Friday on the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, in Kaduna state, but declined to give a death toll.

Hundreds have been killed in the past year in clashes pitting the cattle-herding and largely Muslim Fulani people against mostly Christian settled communities like the Berom in Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where its mostly Christian south and Muslim north meet.

The unrest is not linked to the insurgency in the northeast by Boko Haram, an al Qaeda-linked group which wants to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria.

However, analysts say there is a risk the insurgents will try to stoke central Nigeria's conflict. Though most of the Islamist sect's attacks are contained further north but it did claim a 2011 Christmas Day bomb attack at a church in Jos.

"Fulani gunmen came across from neighbouring Plateau state and just opened fire on the villagers at around 11 pm," said Daniel Anyip, vice chairman of the Kaura local government authority.

"We are still picking bodies out of the bush but so far there are more than 100 killed."

Andrew Kazah, another local councilor, said at least 96 had been killed, but that the toll was likely to go up.

Human Rights Watch in December said sectarian clashes in the nation's religiously mixed central region had killed 3,000 people since 2010, adding that Nigerian authorities had largely ignored the violence, an accusation they denied.

Though it sometimes takes on a sectarian character, the violence is fundamentally about decades-old land disputes between semi-nomadic, cattle-keeping communities such as the Fulani and settled farming peoples such as the Berom, both often armed with automatic weapons.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with almost 170 million people, split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims and around 250 different ethnic groups who mostly live peacefully side-by-side.

But the central region has been a tinderbox for decades.

SEVEN DIE IN STAMPEDE

Seven people have been killed in a stampede at Nigeria's national stadium during a recruitment drive for the immigration service, officials and witnesses said.

The stampede late on Saturday shows the desperation for jobs in Africa's second biggest economy and most populous nation, where oil wealth has enriched elites and grown the economy by more than 6 percent a year but has failed to create employment.

Officials said only one entrance to the 60,000 capacity stadium was open during the aptitude test for applicants to join the immigration service.

Reuters counted seven bodies at the National Hospital where the dead and injured were taken.

Tayo Haastrup, spokesman of the hospital, said there were several injured in a critical but stable condition.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the untimely death of the young citizens who were at the exercise not only to secure jobs but to be allowed the opportunity to contribute towards the development of the nation," said Olisa Metuh, spokesman of Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party. 

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- Reuters

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