Religious clashes flare in central Nigeria

The unrest has come as President Goodluck Jonathan is running a controversial campaign ahead of the ruling party's primaries on Jan. 13.

Religious clashes flare in central Nigeria

Clashes broke out between armed Christian and Muslim groups near the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, after Christmas Eve bombings in the region killed more than 30 people.

The unrest has come as President Goodluck Jonathan is running a controversial campaign ahead of the ruling party's primaries on Jan. 13.

A ruling party pact says that power within the People's Democratic Party (PDP) should rotate between the mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south every two terms.

Jonathan is a southerner who inherited office when President Umaru Yar'Adua, a northerner, died during his first term this year and northern factions in the ruling party are opposed to his candidacy.

Jonathan faces a challenge from former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for the ruling party nomination.

Buildings were set ablaze and people were seen running for cover as the police and military arrived on the scene in an effort to disperse crowds.

This correspondent saw dozens of buildings on fire and injured people covered in blood being dragged by friends and family to hospital.

The unrest was triggered by explosions on Christmas Eve in villages near Jos, capital of Plateau state, that killed at least 32 people and left 74 critically injured.

The Red Cross said on Saturday it was not in a position to state the total number of deaths caused by the explosions but confirmed that 95 were seriously injured in hospital. Vice President Namadi Sambo will travel to Jos on Sunday.

"The vice president is on his way to Jos to make an effort to quell this crisis," Sambo's spokesman said.

Elections are set for April in Nigeria and observers have warned of an increase in violence as the polls approach.

The situation was especially tense in Jos, which has been previously hit by sectarian unrest that many observers say has been stoked by politics and which has killed hundreds this year.


Agencies

Last Mod: 27 Aralık 2010, 10:29
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