By BosNewsLife News Center
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) -- Nigeria's government continued preparations Saturday, October 6, for an emergency conference on religious tensions after rampaging Muslims reportedly killed at least nine Christians, injured 61 others, destroyed nine churches and displaced over 500 people in the town of Tudun Wada in the nation's, mainly Muslim, Kano State.
Local police and Christians said the violence began on the morning of September 28 in the Government Secondary School in Tudun Wada, where Muslim high school students claimed Christian students had drawn a cartoon of Islamâ€™s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the schoolâ€™s mosque. Just over a dozen of the estimated 1,500 students at the high school are Christians.
Having attacked Christian students in the school, Muslim students and their supporters poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, where they killed Christians, burned down churches and other Christian properties, eyewitnesses and investigators said.
Torched churches reportedly included St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Church, St. Georgeâ€™s Anglican Church, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.
MORE CHURCHES DESROYED
Other churches destroyed by the Muslim militants were said to be an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.
News reports said that among the 10 Christians murdered were Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Maryâ€™s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed and corpses of three Catholics were seen lying at the City Hospital in Kano city.
Seven other Christians killed were reportedly buried in a common grave by officials of the government of Kano state. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a major advocacy and rights group, said reports also indicate that Tundun Wadaâ€™s chief of police ordered the area to be sealed off.
"Local authorities transported Christians out of the area and removed all corpses in a possible attempt to obscure the true death toll," CSW said, suggesting the death toll may be higher than the official death toll of nine or 10 Christians killed. One policeman was overheard complaining of being â€œfed up of packing corpses,â€œ the well-informed group added.
AID WORKERS BANNED
"Even those seeking to assist victims of the violence were denied access to the area. Three pastors from the Mountain of Fire Pentecostal Church based in the State Capital, Kano City were detained when they attempted to evacuate members of their denomination," CSW said. The pastors were apparently accompanied by three uniformed Christian members of the Nigerian Air Force who were also imprisoned. "The three pastors have since been released on bail, while the air force men remain in custody," CSW added.
CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said that "news that the area was initially cut off from any outside assistance is deeply troubling. Until all the facts surrounding these attacks and resulting fatalities is uncovered, many victims may not be able to find out what has happened to their family and friends."
He said the Christians "have lost so much already in the violence that has destroyed their homes and livelihoods. We encourage the authorities to do everything within their power to bring peace and justice to this situation, an essential part of which is to reveal the truth and allow victims to mourn."
GOVERNMENT WANTS CONFERENCE
Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan said he wanted a conference to shed more light on this and other incidents in Nigeria.
"The President has asked me to use this occasion to plead with religious leaders, Christians and Muslims, to preach and teach that people should learn to live together in peace and harmony," he said in published remarks during a special church service at the National Christian Centre in the capital city of Abuja to mark Nigeria's 47th Independence anniversary.
"The religious intolerant that we have observe is coming up again must be addressed," he added. No date has yet been fixed for the conference.
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