Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sectarian clashes in Nigeria sparked by a dispute over a game of billiards have left four people dead and dozens of buildings on fire, police say

The trouble broke out in Tafawa Balewa in central Nigeria, a region that has seen an upsurge in violence between Christians and Muslims. Five mosques and about 50 homes were set alight as Christian and Muslim youths fought each other. Police eventually restored order, using roadblocks to contain the violence. Police commissioner Abdulkadir Mohammed Indabawa said the dispute began with a disagreement over money between the Christian owner of the billiards table and a Muslim player. Although the row was settled through mediation by local elders, the table was later burned. "The Christian youths accused Muslims of the act, which prompted them to go about burning houses and mosques," said Indabawa. "Clashes followed between Muslim and Christian groups and four people were killed as a result." Tafawa Balewa is close to the city of Jos in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt, which sits between the mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south. The region has been a flash-point of tension between Hausa Muslims and Berom Christians. It has suffered repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence over the past decade, with deadly riots in 2001, 2008 and 2010.

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