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32 KILLED IN MIGERIA SECTERIAN CLASHES

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At least 32 people have been killed, on Saturday 12/25/2010, in bomb blasts during Christmas Eve celebrations near the city of Jos in central Nigeria. About 74 people were wounded in the bomb blasts. Some are in a critical condition. The blasts happened in an area that has seen up to 1,000 people killed this year in sectarian clashes (see – Jos 03.08.10).

In a separate development, at least six people have died in attacks on churches by suspected Islamists in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri on Friday 12/24/2010. In one incident, petrol bombs killed five people including a Baptist pastor, Reuters news agency reported. A security guard at a nearby church died in a similar assault, Reuters added (see also – PERSECUTIONS).

Gregory Yenlong, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Plateau state, said there had been long-standing threats against the region’s Christian community. “For the past two weeks there have been threats to disrupt Christmas celebrations in Jos,” Mr Yenlong told Bloomberg news agency.

Jos lies on the fault-line between Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and its largely Christian and animist south. Although clashes take place between rivals gangs of Muslims and Christians, observers say the underlying causes are economic and political.

Muslims are generally from the Hausa- or Fulani-speaking communities. They are often nomadic people who live from rearing animals or petty trade. The mainly Christian Berom, Anaguta and Afisare groups have traditionally been farmers.

Some Christian farmers feel they are under threat, as Hausa-speaking Muslims come down from the north looking for pasture for their animals.

A radical Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram’, said in a press release published on its website, on Monday 12/27/2010, that it was responsible for the multiple bombings in central Jos and two attacks on churches in Maiduguri (see also – Bauchi 07.26.09)..

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