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Six Killed in Nigeria Political Clashes

Fires still smoldered Monday in Kano, in northern Nigeria, after a day of political violence during which police said six people were killed. Youth from rival political parties clashed after accusations of vote rigging in a local council election. Naomi Schwarz has more from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

Nigeria's populous northern state, Kano, was tense Monday. Local journalist Aminu Abubakar says violence over election results on Sunday has ended, but the damage is still evident

"Just a few yards from where I am talking to you now, there is a government building that is still smoldering from last night's arson. The building has been completely razed by fire that was set by some enraged political supporters," he said.

Local elections were held in Kano on Saturday. As preliminary results began to be announced on the radio, Abubakar says some members of the People's Democratic Party, the PDP, felt they had been shortchanged.

The PDP is the ruling national party but is in the opposition in Kano state.

"Youth that are believed to be supporters of the opposition party, went on a rampage, erecting barricades, bonfires on the roads, burning government vehicles and also buildings as well as causing harm to other rival supporters," he added.

Kano Police Spokesman Baba Mohamed says hundreds of people were arrested.

"They are various charges depending on the offense they committed. Some of them were found to have committed electoral offenses, some of them were found to have been in possession of dangerous weapons, knives, and the rest of it, there are various offenses that they will be charged in court for," Mohamed said.

Mohamed says the police called in reinforcements from neighboring Nigerian states to help contain the violence. And he says they have taken measures to ensure the peace as results continue to be announced.

"Policemen are on patrol and they are placed in strategic positions to ensure that there is no further breakdown of law and order," he continued.

He says police have appealed to the public to use the courts to contest any election results and not to take matters into their own hands.

Nigeria has only been under civilian rule since 1999, when more than three decades of almost continuous military dictatorship ended.

Experts say election violence and cheating is common. International observers condemned presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections earlier this year as marred by violence and fraud.

The new president Umaru Mussa Yar'Adua has promised electoral reform.