Men armed with machetes attacked and killed men, women and children in ‘Christian villages’ in the northern Nigerian city of Jos, on Sunday, reports have claimed. The city has been under curfew since January when over 200 people were killed in clashes between Christians and Muslims.
Gangs of men descended on several communities, centered on the village of Dogo-Nahawa, and attacked people with machetes in the early hours of Sunday.
Observers and locals say the attack could be revenge for the religious clashes. However, hundreds of people have fled from Jos in the aftermath of the fighting, reports have claimed.
“We know that late this morning there was some fighting in the south part of the city and it seems like there are reprisal attacks from what happened a few weeks ago,” Robin Waudo, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
An aid worker with the Christian charity Stefanus Foundation, Mr. Mark Lipdo, told reporters that at least 100 people had been killed.
“We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered,” Mr. Lipdo said.
Mr. Lipdo said he went to the villages of Zot and Dogo-Nahawa after daylight on Sunday. According to him, Zot had been almost wiped out.
Eyewitnesses say most of the victims had been cut by machetes and burnt.
“The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes,” an eyewitness told reporters.
Nigeria’s acting President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has ordered security forces to stop the flux of weapons into the area around the city of Jos. Accordingly, the Nigerian military, which already has a presence in Jos, following clashes earlier this year, has sent troops to Dogo-Nahawa.
“The acting president has placed all the security forces in Plateau and neighboring states on red alert so as to stem any cross-border dimensions to this latest conflict,” Mr Jonathan’s office said in a statement published by Reuters news agency.
The city of Jos had deadly riots in 2001, and in 2008. The city divided into Christian and Muslim areas have also witnessed incessant violent clashes in 2010 as division along party lines: Christians mostly back the ruling PDP; Muslims generally supporting the opposition ANP continue to destabilize the region.