Eid clashes leave 20 dead in Nigeria

Aug. 30, 2011 at 10:51 AM
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ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Following last week's attacks by Islamic militants, religious conflict at the end of Ramadan left at least 20 people dead in Nigeria, the government said.

Clashes erupted when Christians in northern Nigeria tried to block Muslims who were gathering at an area mosque to mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Skirmishes spread throughout the region and, apart from the death toll, more than 150 vehicles were set on fire. Yiljab Abraham, commissioner for information at Nigeria's Plateau state, said security forces were working to control the situation, Nigerian newspaper NEXT reports.

The violence comes after Islamic group Boko Haram took responsibility for an attack Friday that left nearly two dozen dead in Abuja. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said his country was committed to bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice.

Alex Vines, who heads the African program at Chatham House, warned in a recent column in The Guardian newspaper in London that the Boko Haram attack was emblematic of the marginalization in northern Nigeria.

Vines notes this marginalization worsened after Jonathan, a Christian, was elected president.

Jonathan, who assumed office last year after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua, received more than half of the votes cast in an April election, beating his primary challenger Gen. Muhammadu Buhari by about 10 million votes.

Riots broke out in the predominantly Muslim north after news that Jonathan defeated Buhari, a Muslim.

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