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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wednesday 12 May 2004

NIGERIA: 30 dead following religious riots in Kano

KANO, 12 May 2004 (IRIN) - Police have imposed a dawn to dusk curfew in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria, where about 30 people have been killed in two days of religious violence, sparked off by a Muslim protest demonstration against a massacre committed by Christians.

Kano State police commissioner Abdulganiyu Daudu told reporters on Wednesday that about 30 people had been killed in the city of eight million people.

A further 45 had been arrested and 40 had been injured after mobs of youths armed with clubs, machetes and jerry cans of petrol roamed the streets on predominantly Muslim Kano, attacking suspected Christians, burning their homes and property, he added.

"A total of 15 bodies have been deposited in this hospital this morning, all victims of the riot," a doctor at the Murtala Mohammed Hospital, the city's main health institution, told IRIN early on Wednesday.

Eye witnesses said they had seen at least seven bodies - some burnt and others apparently clubbed or stabbed to death.

State-run Radio Nigeria said an estimated 10,000 Kano residents, mostly Christians fleeing from their homes in troubled parts of the city, took refuge at the main military and police barracks on Wednesday. Grief striken relatives of the missing tried to trace their loved ones.

However, an IRIN correspondent in Kano said the situation appeared to have calmed down by Wednesday afternoon when soldiers joined police in street patrols.

The two days of violence in Kano were sparked off by a protest demonstration on Tuesday against the killing of several hundred Muslims in the small town of Yelwa in Plateau State in central Nigeria on 2 May.

The Nigerian Red Cross has estimated that more than 600 Muslims were killed in the attack by militia men of the mainly Christian Tarok tribe. Most of the dead were from the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups which dominate northern Nigeria.

Angered by the massacre, thousands of Muslims marched from Kano's main mosque to the state governor's office on Tuesday. But the protest, called and led by Islamic leaders, quickly degenerated into a riot as mobs launched assaults on Christians.

John Amah, a Christian resident of the city's Sharada quarter, said his household belongings and those of other Christians in his compound were brought out into the street by the rioters on Tuesday night and were set ablaze.

"Our landlord is a Muslim and they didn't want to burn his house," he told IRIN at the Bompai Road police headquarters where he had sought refuge.

Amah said he counted more than 10 bodies lying on the streets as police evacuated him and several other survivors of the attack to the police station.

Another Christian survivor, Mary Ime, told IRIN in between shrieks and sobs that her husband, four children and five other relations were burned alive in their home while she was away.

In the mainly Christian Sabon and Gari quarters, witnesses said gangs of youths armed with rifles fought back against Muslim rioters who attacked the area earlier on Wednesday. Some of the Muslim attackers were killed, they added.


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