News / Africa

Nigerian Women Protest Sectarian Massacre

Gilbert da Costa

Thousands of women in Nigeria have protested the massacre of mostly Christian villagers by a Muslim clan.  The demonstration coincided with the start of a three-day fast declared by the authorities in central Plateau State as a mark of reconciliation.

Dressed all in black and carrying Bibles and wooden crosses, the women waved branches full of green leaves as a sign of traditional protest.  The group prayed for an end to the sectarian violence.

Some of the protesters said they had lost faith in the security forces.  A similar protest involving 500 women took place in Abuja.

The police chief in Jos, Ikechukwu Aduba, confirmed the arrest of several ethnic Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslims.  He said the attackers confessed the massacre was in retaliation for religious violence in January that left more than 300 people dead.

"Fulanis who were arrested immediately after the incident and in their various statements owned up to carrying out the invasion and killings in the aforesaid villages," said Ikechukwu Aduba. "They further stated they were on a revenge mission."

The police have also reviewed the death toll from the weekend's massacre.  Police Commissioner Aduba says 109 people were slaughtered in three villages near the central city of Jos.

"Total number of casualties 109," he said. "The figure is authentic and undisputed.  The unwholesome figure of 500 and 300 variously credited to the state government should be disregarded."

The International Committee of the Red Cross says about 8,000 Nigerians have fled their homes around Jos after the violence.

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