At least seven people have been killed in fighting between Muslim and Christian groups in central Nigeria.

The fighting occurred early Thursday in the Barkin Ladi area, near the city of Jos, the scene of many previous sectarian clashes.

A security official in Plateau state says the clashes began when residents began to torch houses that belong to other tribes.  The official said many houses were burned down and a lot of people were arrested, before security forces brought the situation under control.

Officials later imposed a 24-hour curfew on the area.

Sectarian fighting has killed thousands of people in and around Jos over the years.

The city sits in Nigeria's so-called middle belt, which separates the predominately Christian south from the mainly Muslim north.  

Nigeria's population of 160 million is divided almost in half between Muslims and Christians.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.