Nigeria Military Patrols City After 10 Die In Religious Clashes

Monday, December 17, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center
Tensions remain high in Bauchi where up to 10 people were killed and three churches were set on fire.

BAUCHI, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) -- Tensions remained high Saturday, December 15, in Nigeria’s north-eastern city of Bauchi after up to 10 people were killed, 30 critically injured and three churches reportedly set on fire in clashes between Muslim and Christian communities, BosNewsLife monitored.

Military troops patrolled the streets of the city to prevent more violence, officials said. Fighting began Tuesday, December 11, after unidentified people apparently pulled out two foundation blocks of a high school mosque under construction in Yelwa, a mixed Muslim and Christian neighborhood of Bauchi.

That apparently triggered a response from Muslims who reportedly attacked Christian homes, churches, shops and other properties. “They broke chairs and desks,” a teacher of the adjacent Government Day Secondary School-Yelwa reportedly said on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

"They also attacked their Christian colleagues with knives and daggers. I had to run for my dear life because the situation became uncontrollable," Christian news reports quoted the teacher as saying.


In the rioting and fighting, locals used locally made weapons such as machetes, daggers and clubs, killing up to 10 people, witnesses said. "We have recovered six dead bodies," said Bauchi’s Red Cross Director Adamu Abubakarr in a statement released by the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). One of the victims was reportedly identified as Bogoro, a Christian security agent, but officials have refused to disclose more identities.

"The situation is still tense and hundreds of people have fled their homes and are now seeking refuge in police barracks," IRIN quoted Abubakar as saying. Mu'azu Hardawa, a journalist, told IRIN he saw one charred body in a gutter. He said homes, vehicles and other structures have been burned.

"I counted 20 houses, eight cars, five motorcycles, two mosques and two churches all burnt in the violence," said Hardawa, who accompanied Bauchi state governor, Isa Yuguda, on a visit to the neighborhood on December 12.


"People have fled their homes for fear of getting caught up in the fighting," Godwin Agbara, a local journalist, told IRIN by phone from the police barracks where he and his family are staying.

"I left my home because it is not safe for me to stay as tension is still high. I can't risk my life and that of my family." Agbara said people are sleeping in the open. "The National Emergency Management Agency has brought mattresses and blankets while Red Cross provides medical supplies but we feed ourselves which is not easy."

The latest clashes have underscored concerns about rising tensions between Muslims and Christians in several areas of Nigeria. (With reporting from Nigeria).