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Nine killed in renewed Nigerian violence

world Updated: Apr 21, 2010 23:09 IST

At least nine persons were killed as fresh clashes erupted in Nigeria's northern state of Plateau where hundreds have already died in recent sectarian conflict between the Muslims and Christians.

Yesterday, about seven bodies were exhumed from a shallow grave in Riyom in the neighbouring town of Jos which has been severely affected by the killings.

The present death toll have put security operatives on high alert once again and non-residents have been warned that the area is not safe while most residents are relocating to other towns.

The police have not been able to establish the identity of those behind yesterday's killing but locals say the murderers mounted a roadblock before their attack.

The military task force, set up to monitor crisis said they will bring the recent outbreak under control and placed a curfew to that effect.

The clashes between Muslims and Christians has been described by Nigeria's Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as more of a conflict between indigenous people and settlers.

His argument is hinged on the fact that fierce control of farmland between indigenous Beroms and Fulani settlers had sparked previous riots that has claimed more than 300 lives, mostly Muslims early this year while a reprisal attack has caused over 500 casualties.

Since 2001, more than 2000 casualties have been recorded in the religious and ethnic violence in the town of Jos, capital of Plateau State of Nigeria .

Ethnic Berom and Fulani live together but Beroms who are mostly Christians consider Fulani who are predominantly Muslims as settlers.

In the most recent clashes, the government sent troops to stop the two communities but the Berom accused the army of taking side though this has not been proved.

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

Nigeria's 150 million people are evenly distributed between Muslims and Christian and in some states they live side by side without conflict.