52 Killed in Central Nigeria Raids and Reprisals
By AHMED SAKA Associated Press
JOS, Nigeria July 8, 2012 (AP)
Raids and reprisal attacks have left 52 people dead in Christian villages near a Nigerian city where authorities have struggled to contain religious violence, officials said Sunday.
Assailants launched “sophisticated attacks” on several villages near Jos early Saturday, said Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special taskforce made up of policemen and soldiers deployed in the area to curb years of violence.
“They came in hundreds,” Salisu said. “Some had (police) uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests.”
He said the special taskforce fought back for hours [!] and lost two policemen in the battle. Salisu initially said that 37 people were killed including 14 civilians and 21 assailants.
However, later in the day, Nigerian Red Cross official Andronicus Adeyemo said aid workers had counted 52 dead and more than 300 displaced people from the attacks. He did not give a breakdown.
He said a federal lawmaker and a state lawmaker were ambushed and killed Sunday afternoon on their way to a mass burial for the victims.
Mark Lipdo, who runs a Christian advocacy group known as the Stefanos Foundation, gave a list of the 13 villages where he got reports of attacks. He said they were all Christian.
Nigeria, a multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people, is largely divided into a mainly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north. Jos is located in the “middle belt,” at the meeting point of these two regions.
Human Rights Watch says at least 1,000 people were killed in communal clashes around Jos in 2010.
However, the rise of a northern-based Islamist insurgency known as Boko Haram has added a new dimension to the long-running conflict, fanning religious tensions in this flashpoint area.
All previous Jos attacks have targeted churches, a deliberate move to trigger more religious violence, many have said. They all sparked reprisals.
Sts. Nunilio and Alodia, pray for us.