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Updated: March 18, 2010 02:14 IST

Attackers kill 12 in latest Nigeria fighting

AP
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Pope Benedict XVI looks on during his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, on Wednesday. The Pope has appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria between Christians and Muslims that has taken more than 200 lives. Photo: AP.
Pope Benedict XVI looks on during his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, on Wednesday. The Pope has appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria between Christians and Muslims that has taken more than 200 lives. Photo: AP.

Attackers killed 12 people in a small Christian village in central Nigeria on Wednesday, and witnesses said some of the victims’ tongues had been cut out in a region where religious fighting already has killed hundreds this year.

Raiders entered the village of Byie around 2 a.m., setting fire to homes and driving frightened residents into waiting attackers’ machete blades, said Mark Lipdo, leader of a regional Christian nonprofit group. Ten adults and two children were slain, he said.

Three people were wounded in the overnight raid and taken to a local hospital, Lipdo said. He said attackers burned down 15 homes during the violence.

More than 200 people - mostly Christians - died last week in massacres in villages outside of the central Nigerian city of Jos. In January, more than 300 people, mostly Muslims, were slain.

Nigeria, a country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. The recent bloodshed has been happening in central Nigeria, in Nigeria’s “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands.

The violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands.

The latest killings add to the tally of thousands who already have perished in Africa’s most populous country in the last decade over religious and political frictions. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. Muslim—Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004. More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008.

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