Aug 22, 2011 – 4 people were shot dead in religious attacks in central Nigeria, a local politician said on Sunday, the latest in a series of clashes in a region where hundreds have been killed this year.
Muslim members of the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group carried out two separate attacks on Saturday in two mainly Christian villages around the city of Jos in Nigeria’s central “Middle Belt”, local council chairman Emmanuel Lomang told Reuters.
The police confirmed the attacks took place, but said it was too early to say how many people died.
Jos is a former tin-mining hub on a rocky highland between the mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south of Africa’s most populous nation. It has been a flashpoint for sectarian violence over the past two decades.
Hausa-Fulanis, who make up more than a quarter of Nigeria’s population, say it is hard for them to obtain controversial forms that identify the holder’s origin, which are required for school places, bank loans and certain forms of employment.
Christian ethnic groups meanwhile resent what they see as increasing encroachment by northerners on their ancestral lands.
Ten were killed in clashes last week between the military and rival gangs, prompting a protest by local residents that forced the military to retreat to ease tensions.
The resurgence in violence, which had been muted since elections in April, will add to already heightened security concerns in Africa’s largest crude oil exporter.
A radical Islamist group in the far northeast has been blamed for almost daily bombings and shootings, mainly targeting police and other authority figures.
President Goodluck Jonathan has sent a special committee to investigate the violence in the northeast. He can ill afford a prolonged period of religious violence across the north, which could dampen confidence among Nigerians and international investors.