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Christian families killed as violence continues in Nigeria

Country/Region: Nigeria, Africa

A pregnant woman in labour was among 14 members of an extended Christian family killed by Muslims in Nigeria, as brutal violence continues in Plateau State and the death tally tops 100.

Gunmen carried out a midnight raid on the village of Vwang Kogot on 10 September; they shot or hacked to death the 14 family members.

President_Goodluck_Jonathan-4X3.jpg
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the military to restore order
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5

In another attack, gunmen killed seven children, their father and a neighbour in the mainly Christian village of Barkin Ladi, on 8 September.

More than 100 people have been killed in the sectarian violence that has beset Plateau State for more than two weeks.

On 12 September, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to “take all necessary actions” to stop the ethnic and religious unrest in Plateau State. But there have also been reports from eyewitnesses of military complicity in much of the violence. Survivors of the assault on Vwang Kogot reported that the assailants were accompanied by men in military uniform.

Tensions began to rise in the state capital, Jos, as the end of Ramadan approached. Fighting broke out over Muslim plans to pray at a disused Muslim prayer ground in the road where deadly anti-Christian bombings had been carried out on Christmas Eve 2010. At least 16 people were killed, including a pastor, who was mutilated and burnt; properties and vehicles were destroyed, including a church in Sarkin Mangu.

Plateau State in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where the predominantly Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south, is often beset by sectarian tensions. The violence is widely seen as religiously motivated, but there are other factors at work too, including political rivalry; Christians mostly support the People’s Democratic Party while Muslims generally back the opposition.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence in Jos over the past two years.

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