Nigerian City Calmer After Muslim-Christian Riots Kill 70

JOS, Nigeria, SEPT. 9, 2001 ( Soldiers collected bodies and patrolled the streets of the central Nigerian city of Jos today after at least 70 people were killed in two days of clashes between Christians and Muslims.

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Officials put the death toll at 70, but residents say at least 100 people, including two soldiers, were killed in the clashes that flared soon after Muslim prayers on Friday.

A police spokesman said security chiefs and government officials were meeting to assess the situation in this hilltop city of 4 million. The movement of people in and out of the state was barred. Jos residents said an eerie calm reigned today over the city.

In February 2000, hundreds of people were killed in an explosion of sectarian violence in the northern city of Kaduna over plans to introduce strict Islamic law there before soldiers stepped in to restore order. Hundreds more died in a second bout of bloodletting three months later.

The trigger for Friday´s flare-up was a wrangle between Christians and Muslims after a Christian woman allegedly breached a barricade erected to control traffic around the central mosque area during Friday prayers, residents said.

Multiethnic Nigeria has been plagued by religious and communal violence since independence from Britain in 1960. Tensions have risen since the 15-year military dictatorship ended in 1999.

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