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At Least 64 Muslims Killed in 5 Days of Riots in Southern Nigeria

The death toll from five days of Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria is up to at least 64 following more violence in the south.

Christian mobs in the city of Onitsha killed at least 19 people, mostly Muslims, Wednesday. Witnesses describe a bloody scene with Christian rioters using machetes to slash and mutilate their victims. At one point, soldiers used force against the rioters to block more attacks.

The violence in Onitsha began Tuesday when at least 12 people were killed during Christian attacks on Muslims.

Those riots were in reprisal for riots targeting Christians in Nigeria's largely Muslim north. At least 33 people, mostly Christians, were killed when Muslims rioted in the cities of Bauchi and Maiduguri earlier in the week.

The spiral of violence began in Maiduguri during Muslim protests against Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sectarian violence is not uncommon in Nigeria, whose 140 million are split almost evenly between the Muslim north and Christian south.