AFRICA/NIGERIA - Clashes in Plateau state. At least 48 protestant Church of Christ worshippers killed in church

Friday, 27 February 2004

Jos (Fides Service)- At 48 worshippers, including women and children, were slaughtered yesterday 26 February at Yelwa, when a church belonging to the Church of Christ of Nigeria was attacked by a gang of armed men who opened fire indiscriminately. This was the most violent in a series of episodes of violence in the past two weeks in Plateau state, central Nigeria. At least 100 people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes. Local sources told Fides that a gang equipped with modern arms has been attacking villages over a vast area, involving at least four districts and that according to eyewitnesses “the gang was not local and the operations appeared to be carefully planned. The attackers all wore the same black overalls and the attacks were obviously co-ordinated”.
The army sent reinforcements and set up road blocks in Yelwa. Plateau State has been the scene of violent clashes in the past. More than 1,000 people were killed in violence between Christians and Muslims in 2001. In 2002 the victims were counted in the hundreds. Rather than religious or ethnic disputes the clashes were over land claims and episodes of cattle stealing. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 27/2/2004, righe 23 parole 270)