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DATE=7/19/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251924 TITLE=NIGERIA / VIOLENCE (L) BYLINE=JOHN PITMAN DATELINE=ABIDJAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: AT LEAST 60 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED IN SOUTHWESTERN NIGERIA DURING A CLASH BETWEEN RIVAL ETHNIC GROUPS NEAR THE COUNTRY'S COMMERCIAL CAPITAL, LAGOS. CORRESPONDENT JOHN PITMAN REPORTS FROM OUR WEST-AFRICA BUREAU. TEXT: VIOLENCE ERUPTED SATURDAY IN THE TOWN OF SHAGUMU, ABOUT 70-KILOMETERS NORTHEAST OF LAGOS, WHERE ETHNIC TENSION HAD APPARENTLY BEEN BREWING FOR DAYS BETWEEN MEMBERS OF THE HAUSA AND YORUBA ETHNIC GROUPS. WITNESSES SAY THE VIOLENCE WAS SPARKED BY THE DEATH OF A HAUSA WOMAN LAST WEEK. ACCORDING TO REPORTS FROM THE TOWN, THE WOMAN WAS KILLED AFTER WATCHING A TRADITIONAL YORUBA PARADE WHICH NON-YORUBAS WERE ASKED NOT TO WATCH. THE PARADES ARE AN ANNUAL EVENT ON THE YORUBA RELIGIOUS CALENDAR, AND ARE HELD AT NIGHT. IT IS UNCLEAR IF THE WOMAN VIOLATED THE REQUEST NOT TO VIEW THE PARADE ON PURPOSE, OR SIMPLY STUMBLED ON THE MARCHERS INADVERTENTLY. RIOT POLICE WERE SENT TO THE TOWN (MONDAY) ONE DAY AFTER THE WORST CONFRONTATIONS SUNDAY. EYEWITNESSES SAY MANY OF THE VICTIMS WERE BURNED TO DEATH. OTHERS WERE KILLED WITH MACHETES. SOME WERE REPORTEDLY ATTACKED INSIDE THEIR OWN HOMES. /// OPT /// JOURNALISTS IN SHAGAMU TELL OF A TERRIBLE, ACRID SMELL WHICH HANGS OVER THE TOWN -- A MIXTURE OF BURNED AUTOMOBILE TIRES AND HUMAN FLESH. /// END OPT /// THE DEAD REPORTEDLY COME FROM BOTH ETHNIC GROUPS, AND OFFICIALS IN THE TOWN SAY THE DEATH TOLL COULD GO HIGHER AS MORE BODIES ARE DISCOVERED AND BROUGHT FOR BURIAL. FOLLOWING THE VIOLENCE, HUNDREDS OF HAUSA RESIDENTS REPORTEDLY BEGAN FLEEING THE TOWN. NEWS REPORTS SAY ANTI-HAUSA SENTIMENT IS RUNNING HIGH AMONG THE TOWN'S YORUBA POPULATION. /// REST OPT /// THE YORUBA ETHNIC GROUP IS THE LARGEST IN NIGERIA'S SOUTHWESTERN REGION. THE HAUSA FORM THE MAJORITY POPULATION IN NORTHERN NIGERIA, BUT DURING THE PAST 100-YEARS HAVE SETTLED EXTENSIVELY IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY. TENSION BETWEEN THE HAUSA AND YORUBA IS COMMON IN THE SOUTHWEST AND CAME TO A HEAD FREQUENTLY UNDER THE FORMER MILITARY GOVERNMENTS -- WHICH WERE DOMINATED BY HAUSA OFFICERS. THE HAUSA -- WHO ARE TRADITIONALLY SHEPHERDS -- ARE ALSO REGULARLY INVOLVED IN CLASHES WITH RIVALS IN NORTHERN NIGERIA OVER CATTLE GRAZING RIGHTS. NIGERIA'S NEW CIVILIAN PRESIDENT, OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, IS A YORUBA, BUT HE REJECTS ETHNIC LABELS AND HAS CAMPAIGNED HARD FOR NIGERIANS TO PLACE LESS EMPHASIS ON THEIR ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS. SINCE TAKING OFFICE MAY 29TH, PRESIDENT OBASANJO HAS WORKED TO ADDRESS NIGERIA'S ETHNIC TROUBLES, WHICH AFFECT A LARGE NUMBER OF THE COUNTRY'S ESTIMATED 200 ETHNIC GROUPS. (SIGNED) NEB/JP/PCF/RAE 19-Jul-99 2:06 PM EDT (1806 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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