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Troops Patrol Nigerian City after Clashes

Troops Patrol Nigerian City after Clashes
Troops Patrol Nigerian City after Clashes

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Gilbert da Costa

Calm is returning to the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi, a day after members of an Islamic sect clashed with security forces. Police said 38 people were killed, including the leader of the sect.

Residents of Bauchi say security forces were deployed in full around the city Tuesday to forestall a repeat of the violence. Police have arrested 20 suspected sect members and recovered what has been referred to as 'sophisticated' weapons from the group.

The clashes erupted on Monday when the religious sect, which is known as Yan Kala Kato, began attacking security forces over the arrest of its leader, Malam Badamasi.

Yan Kala Kato, also known as Maitatsine, is a radical Islamic sect which exists in several parts of northern Nigeria. Thousands of people were killed in religious uprisings instigated by the group in 1980 in the northern city of Kano and in Yola in 1992.

A human rights activist in the northern city of Kaduna, Shehu Sani, says the latest violence resulted from a battle for leadership within the Islamic sect.

"The recent violence is a continuation of violent activities of sect leaders in the north. This violence was religiously motivated, and it is about the quest for supremacy between factional leaders of the remnants of the religious sect that are in Bauchi," Sani said.

Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north has seen bouts of religious unrest. This was the third time religious violence had occurred in Bauchi this year. In July, the area witnessed sectarian unrest, which later spread to neighboring states, killing 800 people.

Sani blames the "failure of leadership" for the religious violence in northern Nigeria.

"For the past 30 years, there have been over 85 cases of religious violence in the northern part of Nigeria. And it is clearly that there is a failure of leadership in the past three decades, which has created a vacuum for people to find answers to their problems within the realm of Islamic fundamentalism. And poverty, illiteracy and ignorance in the region have given fundamentalists a favorable atmosphere for them to get their converts and adherents," Sani said.

Nigeria's 150 million people are split almost equally between Christians in the south and Muslims in the north.

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