500 Christians slaughtered in north Nigeria
This file photo taken on Jan. 21 shows the scene after a communal violence that takes place 30 km away from Nigeria's northern city of Jos. Photo: Xinhua/AFP file photo
Nigeria's government sent in troops Monday to the flash point northern Jos region Monday after attacks by machete-wielding gangs on Christian villages that officials say killed at least 500 people.
"We have been able to make 95 arrests, but at the same time over 500 people have been killed in this heinous act," said Dan Manjang, an adviser to the Plateau state government.
Much of the violence was centered on the village of Dogo Nahawa, where gangs from the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group set fire to straw-thatched mud huts before embarking on the killing rampage in the early hours Monday.
Witnesses said armed gangs had scared the victims out of their homes by firing into the air, but most of the killings were due to machete attacks.
"The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes," Dogo Nahawa resident Peter Jang recalled.
Locals said that the attacks were the result of a spiraling feud between the Fulani and rival Berom clans, which was ignited by a theft of cattle and then further fueled by a deadly revenge attack.
The latest conflict broke out in January, which claimed hundreds of people's lives and was quelled by acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
A curfew imposed after January's unrest is supposed to be still in place, but Christian leaders said the authorities had done nothing to prevent the bloodshed.