News / Africa

Nigeria's Acting President Replaces Security Chief After Latest Violence



Nigeria's acting president has appointed a new National Security Advisor following the deaths of hundreds of people in the latest round of ethnic and religious violence near the city of Jos.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan fired National Security Advisor Sarki Mukhtar and replaced him with retired Lieutenant General Aliyu Gusau. Gusau held that post under former president Olusegun Obasanjo and is seen by many as a potential presidential candidate in next year's election, having finished second to President Umaru Yar'Adua in the last ruling-party primary.

Mr. Jonathan's move to sack a national security advisor chosen by President Yar'Adua is the latest move by the acting president to solidify his position at a time when President Yar'Adua is still recovering from a heart condition and the nation is facing renewed civil unrest.

Nigerian troops are patrolling villages near the city of Jos after Plateau state officials say the death toll from Sunday's ethnic and religious violence could be as high as 500.

Residents in the village of Dogo Nahawa say Fulani herdsmen raided their village before dawn, shooting in the air to draw people out of their homes before attacking them with machetes and knives. Many of those killed were women and children who could not outrun their attackers.

Most Fulani herdsmen are Muslim. The villages they attacked are predominantly Christian.

Thousands of people have been killed in the last decade in and around Jos which sits on the line roughly dividing Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and Christian-dominated south.

The area has been under a dusk-to-dawn curfew since January, when another outburst of Muslim-Christian violence in Jos killed about 325 people. Some civilians are now leaving the area, asking why their villages were left unprotected.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the killings are "appalling" and is urging Nigerian political and religious leaders to work together to address the underlying causes of violence in the area.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Nigerian authorities should bring the perpetrators to justice under the rule of law while respecting human rights as order is restored.

The group Human Rights Watch says Acting President Jonathan must ensure that security forces prevent reprisal attacks.

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