Reprisals on Christians leave 52 dead in Nigeria

Raids and reprisal attacks have left 52 people dead in Christian villages near a Nigerian city where authorities have struggled to contain religious violence.

Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special taskforce made up of policemen and soldiers deployed in the area to curb years of violence, said assailants launched “sophisticated attacks” on several villages near Jos early on Saturday.

“They came in hundreds,” said Salisu, “Some had [police] uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests.”

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He said the special taskforce fought back for hours and lost two policemen in the battle.

Nigerian Red Cross spokesman Andronicus Adeyemo said that aid workers had counted 52 dead and more than 300 displaced people from the attacks.

Mark Lipdo, who runs a Christian advocacy group known as the Stefanos Foundation, gave a list of the 13 villages where he got reports of attacks. He said they were all Christian. He blamed Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani ethnic group for the attacks. However, Nurudeen Abdullahi, Plateau State chairman of Miyetti Allah Fulani Herdsmen Association, denied any involvement by herdsmen.

“This is a usual propaganda used on our people but we are not the ones that attacked the villages in the area,” he said.

Mr Abdullahi accused Christian farmers of attacking Muslim settlements and stealing cows.