Nigeria Death Toll Over 300 in 2nd Day of Riots

Ahmed Saka, AP, November 30, 2008

Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques Saturday in a second day of riots, as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa’s most populous nation in years.

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Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people.

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The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region’s two main political parties after the first local election in the town of Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausas [Muslims] and members of Christian ethnic groups doing battle.

Angry mobs gathered Thursday in Jos after electoral workers failed to publicly post results in ballot collation centers, prompting many onlookers to assume the vote was the latest in a long line of fraudulent Nigerian elections.

Riots flared Friday morning, and at least 15 people were killed. Local ethnic and religious leaders made radio appeals for calm on Saturday, and streets were mostly empty by early afternoon. Troops were given orders to shoot rioters on sight.

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