Nigerian police said on Tuesday at least 326 people died in Muslim-Christian clashes last week in the central Plateau State.
“From the figures available to the police … 326 people were killed in the recent violence,” police spokesperson Mohammed Lerama said.
However, other estimates from medical and aid workers and religious and community leaders put the toll at more than 550.
The killings erupted in Jos on January 17 and spread to nearby towns and villages in the following days.
Christian resistance to the building of a mosque in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood sparked the violence.
“The clashes had no religious basis but rather an affray hijacked in the name of religion by demons with a human face,” said Lerama.
Leaders of both faiths have said the unrest owed more to the failure of political leaders to address ethnic differences than any religious rivalries.
Police said 313 people have so far been rounded up for suspected roles in the killings.
Jos and its surrounds, centrally located between the Muslim north and Christian-majority south, has long been a hotbed of religious violence in Nigeria, whose 150-million people are divided almost equally between followers of the two faiths. — AFP