Where: Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
March 18, 2010 : Hundreds of people have died in ethnic and religious violence around the Nigerian city of Jos since the year 2010 began. The last such incident was an attack on three mostly Christian villages over the weekend of March 7-8, 2010. Villagers including women and children were attacked by men with machetes. More than 200 people died. Police arrested around 90 suspects.
Survivors said the attackers spoke Hausa and Fulani, two languages used mostly by Muslims. The violence was seen by some as a revenge attack for the Muslims killed in January 2010. While northern Nigeria is mostly Muslim, the south is predominantly Christian. The reasons for differences among the people extend beyond race and religion. There are political, social and economic factors which strengthen the divide between the groups. The recent bloodshed occurred in central Nigeria. Nigeria’s “middle belt” is filled with fertile lands, and war is waged over who will control them.
Human rights organisations have asked the Nigerian government to prosecute the killers. They have accused the government of failing to provide police or military protection for the village people around Jos. The attacks occurred even though Jos has been under a dusk-till-dawn curfew since the January violence.
Acting president Goodluck Jonathan sacked his national security adviser. He said security forces would seal the borders of Plateau state. This would stop weapons and potential fighters from entering the region. However, press reporters said they passed through several checkpoints without any security checks.
More than 1,000 people were killed in riots in September 2001. Clashes have broken out periodically since then. Around 700 people were killed in 2004 and more than 300 in 2008. Some days after the March 2010 violence, Libya’s dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi suggested Nigeria be divided into two states – one Christian and one Muslim. As a result, Nigeria recalled its ambassador to that country.
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