Nigerian Police Restore Calm after Clashes Leave 10 Dead
Heavily-armed police drafted into a small town in northern Nigeria have restored calm after Christian-Muslim clashes left 10 dead, police and officials said Monday.
Order was restored Sunday in the town of Gwantu in southern Kaduna State following a day-and-a-half of clashes, police and officials who declined to be named told AFP in nearby Kano by telephone.
Muktar Sirajo, a spokesman for the state governor Ahmed Makarfi, confirmed that calm had returned but declined to comment further.
The violence in Gwantu, which forced hundreds to flee their homes and left many buildings destroyed, erupted after weeks of tension between the Christian chairman of the local council and the Muslim traditional ruler, officials said.
Gwantu is the seat of the headquarters of the Sanga local government area which is Christian dominated.
Frank Bala, the Christian head of the local government, wanted to move the headquarters to his own town, but was opposed by the Ibrahim Yakubu, the traditional ruler of Gwantu who is Muslim.
Christians in the area supported Bala and Muslims backed Gwantu, officials told AFP.
On Friday, a group of Bala's supporters attacked a crowd of Muslims as they were leaving Muslim prayers and in the fighting that followed 10 people were killed, the officials said.
Heavily-armed mobile police were drafted in from the towns of Kafanchan and Kaduna.
Makarfi was to address a press conference on the issue later Monday.
The situation has been tense across several areas of Kaduna State since Friday when authorities introduced a compromise version of Islamic law, alongside customary law.
In February last year, between 2,000 and 3,000 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna over calls for the introduction of Islamic law in the state.
Relations between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria have been tense for years and have been put under particular strain in the past two years over the introduction of Islamic law in a dozen northern states.
In September more than 500 people were killed in Muslim-Christian clashes in the central city of Jos and more than 100 people were killed in Muslim-Christian clashes in Kano last month -- KANO, Nigeria, (AFP)
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