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09 Mar 2010 07:56
A nappy-clad baby was among the corpses of children tangled with each other in a morgue after a massacre that left hundreds of dead in central Nigeria.
Another young victim appeared to have been scalped, while others had severed hands and feet, the Associated Press reported. One female victim appeared to have been stripped below the waist but later covered by a strip of black cloth.
The death toll near the city of Jos, central Nigeria, was at least 500 after an attack by men wielding machetes before dawn on Sunday, a local official said.
Police said the number of dead recorded so far stood at 55.
Residents of three predominantly Christian settlements near Jos said Muslim herders from surrounding hills had launched what appeared to be reprisal attacks following sectarian clashes which killed hundreds in January. Some witnesses told the BBC that villagers were caught in fishing nets and animal traps as they tried to flee and were then hacked to death. Mud huts were also set on fire.
Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation, a Christian aid group, told the BBC: “We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered.
“The Zot village was completely wiped out: almost all the people there, except those who were able to escape by running to another place. But almost everyone who was found there was killed.” Lipdo said he could confirm 93 deaths in Dogo Nahawa village alone, adding: “These are the ones we know, but there are corpses charred beyond recognition.”
He said the youngest was just three months old. Residents there also said the dead included a four-day-old baby.
Gregory Yenlong, state commissioner for information in Plateau state, said: “Soldiers are patrolling and everywhere remains calm ... we are estimating 500 people killed but I think it should be a little bit above that.”
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan called an emergency meeting with all security service chiefs to discuss strategies to prevent clashes spreading to neighbouring states.
Jos, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria’s Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, has been under a military curfew since the outbreak of violence in January. - guardian.co.uk
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