Machete Attacks in Central Nigeria Leave 19 Dead

Ahmed Saka, Washington Post, January 11, 2011

Men armed with rifles and machetes killed 19 people in attacks on three villages in volatile central Nigeria, authorities said Tuesday.

Three homes were attacked in the Christian village of Kuru Station about 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the central Nigerian city of Jos, a flashpoint of religious tension between Christians and Muslims, a community leader said.

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He [Riyom local government chairman Simon Mwaekwom] said villagers told him armed men woke up the houses’ occupants around midnight with gunshots and forced them out before setting their homes ablaze and attacking them with machetes. In total, 19 people, including women and children, died in the assaults and at least three others were injured, police say.

“Those that escaped said they saw military men; the military men were shooting and the other people burning the houses and macheteing the villagers,” Mwaekwom said.

He said the villagers claimed to have picked up two identification cards left behind by military attackers, but the military disputed their claim and said villagers attacked the soldiers in retaliation.

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A military post stands about 200 meters away from the scene of the attack. The villagers told Mwaekwom that they had asked the soldiers for help and that they refused.

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Umaru said that Fagawon, another predominantly Christian village about 80 kilometers from Jos, was attacked soon after the incident in Kuru Station. He said two people were killed and three houses and three motorcycles were burned.

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