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At Least 13 Killed in New Nigerian Sectarian Clash

Nigerian officials and residents say at least 13 people were killed by Muslim herdsmen who attacked a predominantly Christian village close to the troubled central city Jos.

Witnesses say the attackers, disguised as soldiers, raided the village, 30 kilometers south of Jos, at dawn. Most of the victims of the attack were women and children. Local officials said security forces were alerted about the attack, but help came too late.

Previous violence in and around Jos has claimed several-thousand lives. More than 200 people, mostly Christians, died last week in massacres in three nearby villages. More than 300 people, mostly Muslims, died in January during clashes in and around the city.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

A human-rights campaigner and peace activist in the north, Shehu Sani, is leading a campaign to stop the violence and promote peaceful co-existence.

"Our own position is that there should be peace among tribes, religions and cultures in Nigeria," said Sani. "Ethno-religious violence has not brought anything to our country. For over 30 years, thousands of Muslims and Christians have died and the peace efforts between Muslims and Christians have always been done at a very elitist level. People at the grassroots level have not been involved. And people like me felt we should bring those within the community level to the front of the fight, to see that fighting is no more fashionable."

Analysts say the latest convulsion of violence is bound to complicate any peace process as the talk has shifted to revenge and pre-emptive attacks. The violence is also seen as a struggle between ethnic groups for fertile lands and political power in the region known as Nigeria's Middle Belt.

The government says security forces in Plateau and neighboring states had been placed on red alert.