"We counted 60 bodies on Tuesday and 20 on Wednesday and there could be more," Emeka Umeh, head of the local chapter of the Lagos-based Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
He confirmed that "most of the victims are Muslims." Umeh described what happened as "a great massacre that should be condemned by any right-thinking person."
The human rights activist said bodies "littered the streets in Onitsha" and can still be found on Upper Iweka road in the city, which is home to the predominantly Christian Igbo people. Trouble flared in Onitsha earlier this week when, according to rumors on the street, two truckloads of corpses of Igbos slain by Muslim rioters in weekend sectarian violence in the north arrived in town. Christians targeted the sizeable Hausa community, the main ethnic group in northern Nigeria who are mostly Muslims.
Nigerian Muslims strongly condemned on Monday, February 20, attacks on churches and local Christians in northern Nigerian during protests against Danish cartoons mocking Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
At least 15 people were killed and a dozen churches, 200 shops, 50 houses and 100 vehicles were razed and vandalized when Muslims protesters in Maiduguri, the capital of the state of Borno, turned on local Christians after police broke up a rally against the drawings on Saturday, February 19.
Umeh said the victims had been slaughtered "with machetes, knives, metal objects, clubs and in some instance, even guns." He added that two policemen were among the victims, believing they had died "while trying to save the lives of the Muslims." The activist said the relative calm in Onitsha was deceptive.
"The police should not relax. What we have now is graveyard peace," he maintained. Thousands of Muslims fled Onitsha over the Niger River Bridge to neighboring Asaba to seek shelter in police stations and hospitals. Some of them said a machete-wielding mob descended on the market and began to kill.
Christians burned the corpses of Muslims Thursday on the streets of Onitsha, according to Reuters. "We are very happy that this thing is happening so that the north will learn their lesson," said Anthony Umai, a motorcycle taxi rider, standing close to where Christian youths had piled up the corpses of 10 Muslims and were burning them. Dozens more corpses had been thrown into the back of pick-up trucks by security services overnight, residents said.
The city's central mosque was also burnt down, with religious and political slogans daubed on its inner walls, according to AFP. Nigeria's recent census shows that Muslims make up 55 percent of the country's 133 million, Christians 40 percent and five percent atheists. However, other estimates indicated that Muslims make up some 65 percent of the country.
IslamonlineLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16