Raids and reprisal attacks have left 52 people dead in Christian villages near a Nigerian city where authorities have struggled to contain religious violence, officials said Sunday.
Assailants launched "sophisticated attacks" on several villages near Jos early Saturday, said Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special taskforce made up of policemen and soldiers deployed in the area to curb years of violence.
"They came in hundreds," Salisu said. "Some had (police) uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests."
He said the special taskforce fought back for hours and lost two policemen in the battle. Salisu initially said that 37 people were killed including 14 civilians and 21 assailants.
However, later in the day, Nigerian Red Cross official Andronicus Adeyemo said aid workers had counted 52 dead and more than 300 displaced people from the attacks. He did not give a breakdown....
Mark Lipdo, who runs a Christian advocacy group known as the Stefanos Foundation, gave a list of the 13 villages where he got reports of attacks. He said they were all Christian.
He blamed Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani ethnic group for the attacks. However, Nurudeen Abdullahi, Plateau State Chairman of Miyetti Allah Fulani Herdsmen Association, denied any involvement by the herdsmen.
"This a usual propaganda used on our people but we are not the ones that attacked the villages in the area," he said.
Abdullahi accused Christian farmers of attacking Muslim settlements and stealing their cows....
Yeah, sure, that's it.