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US Calls for End to Violence in Nigeria

The United States has joined leaders in Nigeria in appealing for an end to religious violence over the Miss World beauty pageant to be held in that country next month. More than 100 people have been reported killed in three days of clashes involving Muslim and Christian crowds.

The State Department says it supports the calls by Nigerian political, religious and civic leaders for a return to calm, and an end to the lethal rioting which began this week in the northern city of Kaduna and spread to the capital Abuja, which is to be the site of the beauty contest December 7.

Spokesman Philip Reeker said those on both sides of the controversy over the pageant should find non-violent ways to express their concerns.

"We ask the protestors to find a peaceful means to express their views and to put an immediate end to the violence instigated by an extreme few," he said. "We urge demonstrators and counter-demonstrators to show respect for life and property."

Mr. Reeker noted steps by the Nigerian government to restore order and says the United States welcomes assurances by authorities for the safety of the Miss World contestants. The Muslim-Christian violence erupted Wednesday over a newspaper article on the pageant seen as insulting to Islam.