Tuesday, November 6, 2001

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) Interreligious clashes killed 10 persons in a northern Nigerian village after Christians proposed moving a local government office out of the palace of a Muslim chief, officials said yesterday.
Rabiu Bako, spokesman for the Kaduna state government, said the rampage started Friday in the village of Gwantu, about 70 miles south of the city of Kaduna, the state capital.
At least 19 persons were arrested, a police officer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Tensions persisted throughout the weekend, although the situation was reportedly calm yesterday.
Interreligious tensions in other parts of the state which is mainly Muslim, with a large Christian minority have risen since Friday, when the state began implementing Shariah.
Shariah is Islamic fundamentalist law in areas dominated by Muslims.
Kaduna state Gov. Mohammed Makarfi appointed a five-member committee yesterday to investigate the latest clashes, which began after the Christian-led Sanga Local Government Council tried to relocate its offices from the palace of the Muslim chief to another Christian-dominated area.
Kaduna government official Muktar Sirajo blamed the fighting on “troublemakers” trying to capitalize on the recent introduction of Shariah.
Rioting in February 2000, when Shariah was first proposed, left more than 2,000 dead by some estimates, while hundreds of thousands more were forced to flee their homes.
Interreligious fighting has subsequently spread to several of the dozen other states where Shariah has also been imposed.
Nigeria periodically experiences outbreaks of fighting along ethnic and religious lines.
The country is Africa’s most-populous nation with 120 million people from roughly 250 ethnic groups.
Nigeria is roughly divided between a mainly Christian south and an overwhelmingly Muslim north.

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