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article imageCalm Returns To Nigerian Town But Death Toll Rises

By Christopher Szabo     Dec 30, 2009 in World
Calm has returned to the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi after a day of clashes between security forces and an extremist Muslim sect. At least 38 people were killed in the violence, but some sources say the number is higher.
The Voice of America (VOA) reports that security forces have been deployed all around the city to prevent further incidents of violence. Police have arrested 20 members of the sect and have recovered weapons described as ”sophisticated.”
However, an AFP report said at least 70 people had been killed, not 38 as officially stated. A reporter from the news agency who had visited the morgue in Bauchi counted at least 42 bodies on the floor, all with bullet wounds or machete cuts. The report said the room was cooled only by one fan. Another 25 bodies, mostly of young people and minors, were stored in ”cold storage rooms.” Three security force members had also died in the fighting. A morgue employee told the reporter:
With the heat, these bodies need to be buried quickly as they will decompose rapidly.
The Kalo Kato sect, which has been fomenting violence since 1980, attacked security forces on Monday. Earlier, thousands died when the group initiated religious uprisings in the northern city of Kano in 1980 and again in Yola in 1992. The sect is also called Maitatsine.
A human rights activist, Shehu Sani, speaking from the city of Kaduna, says the latest fighting was caused by a leadership battle within the Kalo Kato sect:
The recent violence is a continuation of violent activities of sect leaders in the north. This violence was religiously motivated, and it is about the quest for supremacy between factional leaders of the remnants of the religious sect that are in Bauchi.
VOA says Nigeria’s Muslim northern regions have seen numerous bouts of violence this year. In Bauchi in particular, this was the third case of religious violence. In June, religious unrest killed about 800 people, caused by another sect, Boko Haram Sani has criticized the Nigerian government’s policies in the north, citing a ”failure of leadership.”
For the past 30 years, there have been over 85 cases of religious violence in the northern part of Nigeria. And it is clearly that there is a failure of leadership in the past three decades, which has created a vacuum for people to find answers to their problems within the realm of Islamic fundamentalism. And poverty, illiteracy and ignorance in the region have given fundamentalists a favourable atmosphere for them to get their converts and adherents.
Nigeria’s population of 150 million is divided more or less evenly between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south.
More about Nigeria, Violence, Bauchi, Kalo kato
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