Nigeria religious riots kill at least 52
KADUNA - Reuters
Onlookers gather near the bomb-damaged Shalom Church in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna. REUTERS photo
At least 52 people were killed in religious rioting sparked by three suicide bombings against churches in northern Nigeria, where the dead were piled up in mortuaries and cemeteries in the city of Kaduna today.
A Reuters reporter visited two hospitals in Kaduna, where the rioting broke out yesterday after suicide car bombers attacked three churches in northern Nigeria, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens.
Christian youths had set up roadblocks and dragged Muslims from cars or motorbikes and killed them, witnesses said.
Although there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's church bombings, Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is waging an insurgency in the northeast against President Goodluck Jonathan's government, had claimed deadly church attacks on the previous two Sundays, as well as others.
Corpses littered the ground in parts of the city. They were piled one on top of the other in an old cemetery, some charred. A soldier guarding the site said there were at least 30 bodies of people killed in the violence at that site.
They had been dragged to the secluded cemetery, in a majority Christian neighbourhood, by the mobs, he said.
"Some people were killed and dumped down wells. We've had violence before, but this is the worst I've seen," he said.
A 24-hour curfew imposed by the Kaduna state government on Sunday largely succeeded in restoring order, residents said.
The violence stoked fears of wider sectarian conflict in Nigeria, an OPEC member and Africa's top oil producer that houses the world's largest equal mix of Christians and Muslims. In the St Gerald Hospital, spokesman Sunday Aliyu confirmed that there were 40 dead bodies in the hospital morgue and 72 being treated for burns and other wounds.
At Barau Dikko Hospital, Matron Hassana Garba confirmed 12 dead bodies and two injured people receiving treatment.