Nigerian Muslims bury 600 after Christian slaughter - Guardian, UK
- Nigerian Muslims bury 600 after Christian slaughter
Reuters in Yelwa
Friday May 7, 2004
A Muslim community leader in the Nigerian town of
Yelwa said yesterday that 630 bodies had been buried
there after an attack by Christian militia on Sunday.
The previous estimate of the death toll was 300.
Survivors of the attacks said many people were still
missing and the final death toll could reach 1,000.
Another 600 were said to be seriously wounded.
"We buried a total of 630 people yesterday, 1,500
people were injured and 600 were taken for emergency
treatment," the community leader, Abdullahi Abdullahi,
There was no independent confirmation of the toll.
Many residents fled Yelwa after the attack.
Before the violence, at least 350 people had been
killed in three months of tit-for-tat fighting between
the Christian Tarok and Muslim Fulani over fertile
farmlands at the centre of Africa's most populous
Mr Abdullahi showed a Reuters correspondent a
foul-smelling area of freshly turned earth where he
said some of the people killed in Sunday's attack had
been buried. Nearby a mosque had been gutted by fire.
A Nigerian Red Cross worker, Umar Mairiga, said he had
seen another site where 350 people had been buried.
One Yelwa resident, Suleman Umar, said he thought
1,000 died in the invasion by the heavily armed
Christian militia. "I would have preferred to die
because I lost everything in the attack. My family, my
property. I lost all in the attack," Mr Umar said.
Charred bodies were still lying in the streets
yesterday as some exhausted women and children
returned to the devastated town. "We have been burying
the dead for the past four days," one of the
residents, Shehu Abdullahi, said.
"Even today we moved several bodies from culverts and
wells. We are overworked. We are hungry. The
able-bodied men still around are very few. That's why
we still have some corpses littering the streets."
Mr Mairiga said he had attended to dozens of victims
yesterday. "We have given aid to 58 people with
gunshot wounds, machete wounds and fractures. Some
have mortal wounds. One boy has his intestines still
protruding from his stomach," he said.
Nigeria is a battleground for the world's two main
religions, which share roughly equally its population
of 130m people.
Religious violence has killed at least 5,000 people
since 2000, when 12 northern states predominantly
inhabited by Muslims established Islamic sharia law.
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