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Violence Claims Nearly Two Dozen Lives in Nigeria’s Bauchi State

At least 19 people have reportedly been killed near the town of Tafawa Balewa, in the Nigerian state of Bauchi. The violence took place in Borogo, a mostly Christian village where unidentified assailants also burned down a church and a number of houses.

Bauchi is in Nigeria's middle belt, where the predominantly Muslim north meets the mainly Christian south.

The attack comes after at least 500 people were killed last month in protests following the re-election of incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. A Christian from the south, Jonathan defeated Muhammadu Buhari, a former army ruler who is popular in the Muslim north.

The worst of the violence was in Bauchi and Kaduna states.

“People in the area are saying the mastermind of the attack were members of Boko Haram,” said Abiora Ani, a journalist with the Voice of Nigeria. He said among those killed were a local pastor and all his family members.

Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group seeking the imposition of Shariah law throughout Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north.

He said the attackers, who are reported to have been many, burned churches and a number of houses. “No Muslim family was attacked in the incident,” he said.

Abiora said “this area has been volatile, just like Borno state, where activists of Boko Haram have been on rampage of the last few months.”

Because of the violence that followed the recent presidential elections, there was a heavy presence of the army and police in the area. But “shortly after the gubernatorial elections,” he said, “some of security personnel were withdrawn.”

Some of those security personnel, he said, were shifted to provide security for elections in Imo state this week.

Abiora explained the area is very remote with little security, and the attackers took advantage of the fact that national attention was no longer focused on the area.