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At least 500 dead in Nigeria election riots

April 25, 2011 Comments off

AP

BAUCHI, Nigeria (AP) — At least 500 people died in religious rioting that followed Nigeria’s presidential election, a civil rights group said Sunday, as volatile state gubernatorial elections loom this week.

Meanwhile, police in the northern state of Bauchi said at least 11 recent college graduates who helped run polling stations as part of the country’s national youth service corps have been killed in postelection violence, while other female poll workers have been raped.

The Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria said that the worst hit area was Zonkwa, a town in rural Kaduna state, where more than 300 people died in rioting.

The Civil Rights Congress, led by a Muslim activist, said killings also took place in the towns of Kafanchan and Zangon Kataf, as well as the state capital of Kaduna.

Muslim opposition supporters began riots as results from the April 16 election showed Christian President Goodluck Jonathan had won the vote. Many here in predominantly Muslim north of Africa’s most populous nation felt the next president should have been from their region because a Muslim president died last year before he could complete his term.

Retaliatory violence by Christians soon followed, and officials say more than 40,000 people have now fled their homes. Authorities are fearful that releasing any official death toll will only prompt more fighting, but witnesses believe hundreds have been killed across the north.

The violence also took a toll on Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps. Authorities are trying to assure members they will be safe for them to take part in Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections being held in 29 states, though some have already fled their posts.

In Bauchi state, police have arrested 68 suspects in connection with the deadly riots that were sparked by the presidential election, Police Read more…