15 Nov 2010

Most victims of recent sectarian violence in Nigeria were children

BBC News - December 29, 2009

Nigeria sect violence victims 'mostly children'

The Red Cross in Nigeria says many of those who were killed in clashes on Monday between troops and members of an Islamist sect in Bauchi were children.

Adamu Abubakar, its representative in the northern state, told the BBC 39 people had died - some 60% of them students aged between nine and 15.

Local officials said if any children had died, it would have been because they were hit by vehicles or trampled.

Twenty members of the Kala Kato sect had been arrested, Mr Abubakar said.

The fighting started when locals called in the authorities after members of the sect broke a ban on open-air preaching, which was introduced after an uprising earlier this year by the Boko Haram sect.

Hundreds died in the subsequent fighting across northern Nigeria.

'Result of preaching'

Mr Abubakar told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme the death toll from Monday's violence was 39. Sixteen people were also admitted to hospital, among them a seven-year-old who died on Tuesday morning, he added.

He said some of the victims had been shot, but most had been attacked with machetes and knives.

The Red Cross representative said the crisis "was the result of preaching" at an open-air gathering, after which members of the Kala Kato sect threatened to kill locals who would not join them or leave the area.

An army officer who was sent from a nearby base to speak to the sect's leaders was killed with a machete, he added.

Mr Abubakar said most of the dead were children from outside Bauchi who had been sent to study Arabic and the Koran with local clerics.

But a spokesman for the government of Bauchi, Alhaji Sanusi Mohammed, told the BBC that 32 people had died in the violence, and that most of the people killed were adult members of the sect who had attacked the security forces.

"Most likely, those children that might have been killed were probably crushed when running away from the scene, or they were victims of head-on collisions with cars," he said.

"But I definitely don't think it was security officers that went to quell the rioting who shot them down."

It was impossible that the troops had used machetes, he added.

Mr Mohammed said the clashes had been a result of a "misunderstanding within the religious sect" about its leadership, and that it had quickly escalated.

Correspondents say Kala Kato is a non-conformist sect made up of poor tradesmen, labourers and other working people.

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Google News - AFP December 31, 2009
Death toll from Nigeria clashes climbs to 70

By Aminu Abubakar (AFP)

BAUCHI, Nigeria — Dozens more bodies were recovered Wednesday after violent clashes between security forces and Islamists in northern Nigeria, bringing the death toll to around 70, a count at a hospital morgue showed.

An AFP reporter listed 42 bodies on the floor of the morgue in the city of Bauchi, all with bullet or machete wounds. Another 25 bodies, mostly young people including minors, had been placed in cold storage rooms.

"The bodies were brought in on Monday after the violence," a morgue employee told AFP.

Police late Monday said 38 people died in the fighting, including three members of the security forces.

The clashes erupted Monday between suspected members of a radical Islamist sect and security forces.

The Kala-Kato sect, also known as Maitatsine, has been present in several Muslim-dominated states in northern Nigeria for decades.

It led religious uprisings in 1980 and 1992 which claimed thousands of lives in the northern cities of Kano and Yola.

The number of its followers is not known but estimated to run into several thousands.

Sect leader Badamasi Saleh Alkaleri was among those killed by security forces, the police said.

Police forces across Africa's most populous country have been placed on high alert in the aftermath of the clashes as part of a bid to forestall further violence.

Life was returning to normal Wednesday in Bauchi where the Red Cross was organising burials of the victims. Soldiers and police deployed across the city had withdrawn by early Wednesday.

"So far we have 40 dead bodies and we have secured a warrant from the justice commissioner for the burial," Adamu Abubakar, the head of the Red Cross office in Bauchi told AFP.

"With the heat, these bodies need to be buried quickly as they will decompose rapidly," said the worker at the morgue, where the room was being cooled by a single fan.

Houses, cars and motorcycles were burnt during the clashes.

The Kala-Kato sect abhors modernity, including Western-style education and medicine. It bans television and radio in its members' homes and rejects any literature except the Koran.

A sect with similar inclinations, known as Boko Haram, led an insurrection in July. At least 800 people were killed then when security forces crushed the uprising in nearby Borno State. It's name means "Western Education is a Sin" in the local Hausa language.

The fighting in Bauchi began when sect leader Alkaleri delivered a fiery sermon to his followers, calling for the destruction of a breakaway faction, according to Bauchi state police chief Atiku Kafur.

The sect leader had called for the death of his enemies and of anyone who rejected his dogma, prompting residents to call for police help.

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