Watchdog seeks restraint in Jos

January 20, 2010 12:00 am

, LAGOS, Jan 20 – A global rights watchdog on Wednesday urged Nigerian security forces to use restraint as authorities ordered more troops into Jos city to clamp down on clashes that have killed nearly 300 people.

Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan late Tuesday sent more troops to Jos after sectarian Muslim and Christian mobs clashed for three days.

"Nigeria should ensure that its security forces use restraint and comply with international standards on the use of force in responding to the latest deadly outbreak of inter-communal violence," said Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Authorities placed the city under a 24-hour curfew amid reports of continuing armed clashes. Terrified residents spoke of gunshots and smoke billowing from parts of the Plateau State capital on Tuesday.

Jonathan also ordered security chiefs to "proceed to Jos immediately to assess the situation and advise on further steps," his office said.

Leaders of both sides and a paramedic issued death tolls that put the number of dead in fighting, which erupted Sunday in a mainly Christian area and spread, at nearly 300 but there was no official confirmation.

The clashes were sparked by a dispute over the building of a mosque, residents said.

Religious sectarian clashes occur frequently in northern and central Nigeria.

HRW says more than 13,500 people have died in religious or ethnic clashes since the end of military rule in 1999 in the west African country, but many of the offenders go unpunished.

"This is not the first outbreak of deadly violence in Jos, but the government has shockingly failed to hold anyone accountable," said HRW\\\’s researcher Corinne Dufka.

"Enough is enough. Nigeria’s leaders need to tackle the vicious cycle of violence bred by this impunity," she said.


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