Ethnic violence escalates in Nigeria

The number of estimated dead from the horrific attacks outside of Jos in Nigeria this weekend has reached 500, officials say:

The dead were Christians and members of an ethnic group that had been feuding with the Hausa-Fulani, Muslim herders whom witnesses and police officials identified as the attackers. Officials said the attack was in reprisal for violence in January, when dozens of Muslims were slaughtered in and around Jos, including more than 150 in one village.

Early Sunday, the attackers set upon the villagers with machetes, killing women and children in their homes and ensnaring the men who tried to flee in fishnets and animal traps, then massacring them, according to a Nigerian rights group whose investigators went to the area. Some homes were set on fire.

The archbishop of the Nigerian capital, John Onaiyekan, warns against seeing the event as a religious reprisal so much as an ethnic one, however:

“It is a classic conflict between pastoralists and farmers, except that all the Fulani are Muslims and all the Berom are Christians,” he said.

Locals said that the attacks on Sunday were the result of a spiralling feud between the Fulani and the Berom which had been first ignited by a theft of cattle and then further fuelled by deadly reprisals. 

 

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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