NIGERIA: Scores die in Ethnic Fighting in Nigeria [19990726]

NIGERIA: Scores die in Ethnic Fighting in Nigeria [19990726]

NIGERIA: Scores die in ethnic fighting in Nigeria

LAGOS, 26 July (IRIN) - Scores of people have died in Nigeria during one week of ethnic clashes in the southern town of Shagamu and the northern city of Kano, officials said on Monday.

Fighting first broke out on 18 July between ethnic Hausas from the north and local Yorubas in Shagamu, a town of about 300,000 inhabitants some 60 km north of commercial capital Lagos, after a Hausa woman was killed for breaking a local taboo.

In the ensuing violence at least 60 people were reported dead and scores of buildings, including shops, a hospital and mosques belonging to the predominantly Muslim Hausas were burnt.

Fighting shifted to Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria, on Thursday after some of the dead and the displaced were returned home from Shagamu.

"After the dead were brought back from Shagamu mobs of Hausa youths armed with machetes and clubs attacked Yorubas and other non-indigenes, killing and burning houses," Aliu Musa, a Kano resident, told IRIN. About 10 people were reported killed during violence between Thursday and Friday.

After the initial fighting, a new wave of violence erupted in Kano again on Sunday. This time at least 30 people, mostly Yorubas, were killed as mobs of youths rampaged through the city.

Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso has declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the city of Kano. He has also directed that food and water be sent to thousands of people who fled to police stations and military barracks for refuge.

Tension between two of Nigeria's biggest three ethnic groups has since spread to other cities including Lagos, the biggest city of about seven in the southwest Yoruba heartland. Kaduna, the second biggest city in the north, is also tense.

"There is nothing to gain in ethnic violence except, grief and anguish," Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu said in a broadcast to Lagos residents appealing for calm on Sunday.

Officials also said soldiers have been drafted to help the police, apparently overwhelmed by its sole responsibility for public order since the elected government of President Olusegun Obasanjo took office on 29 May.

"So far there have been no fresh reports of violence although most of the displaced people are still unable to return to their homes, where they've not been damaged," a senior Kano State government official told IRIN.

Police reinforcements sent to Shagamu from Lagos to join contingents of armed riot police are still patrolling the town to prevent fresh outbreaks of violence.

The Hausa community have settled for more than a century in Shagamu, where they are mainly middlemen in the kola nut trade. This nut is largely grown around the town but mostly eaten in northern Nigeria and much of the Sahelian region of West Africa.

Similarly, large communities of Yorubas are spread across northern Nigeria, where they have lived for generations.


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Item: irin-english-1300

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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