Charges in Nigerian massacre

Nigerian police say 49 people are
to be charged with murder after communal violence left scores of villagers
dead.

Most of those facing charges are
Muslims from the Fulani group, police spokesman Mohammed Lerama said.

The number of those arrested since
the killings near the city of Jos has risen to 200, he said.

Police say 109 people – thought to
be mostly Christians – died in Sunday’s bloodshed. Earlier reports put the toll
at more than 500.

The violence followed sectarian
killings near Jos in January that left more than 300 dead, most of them
believed to be Muslims.

Plateau State, in central Nigeria,
sits between the mainly Christian south and the predominantly Muslim north.

Although the violence takes place largely
between Muslims and Christians, analysts say the underlying causes are economic
and political.

Officials say police and troops are
patrolling the area to prevent further trouble.

However, international pressure is
growing on the Nigerian government to take further action.

On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI
denounced the bloodshed as “atrocious”.

He urged civil and religious
leaders “to work towards security and peaceful co-existence”.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions called on the Nigerian government to “move swiftly” to prevent
further attacks.

Earlier, the governor of Plateau
State, Jonah Jang, said security lapses had worsened the carnage in the three
villages targeted.

He said he had warned the army
about reports of suspicious people with weapons hours before they attacked, but
they failed to take action.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan
has sacked the country’s national security adviser, Sarki Mukhtar, in an
apparent response to the killings.

But the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said the villages should have been properly
protected after the January killings.

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