Nigeria: Ethnic unrest spreads

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NIGERIA: Ethnic unrest spreads

ABIDJAN, 27 June (IRIN) - Ethnic clashes that began two weeks ago in central Nigeria's Nassarawa State have spread to Lafia, the state capital, where more than 25 people have been killed, Radio Nigeria reported on Tuesday.

Fighting involving Tivs and Hausa-speakers in Nasarawa followed the 12 June killing by unknown gunmen of Hausa traditional ruler Musa Ibrahim and members of his entourage. His people blamed Tivs and carried out revenge killings, forcing many to flee to nearby Benue State, where Tivs are in the majority.

Radio Nigeria said mobs swept through Lafia on Tuesday attacking members of rival ethnic groups, burning houses and putting thousands of people to flight. "No fewer than 25 lives, mostly of children between two and five years old, have been lost in the rampage," a correspondent said. He said that the police were overwhelmed by the scale of the violence.

Thousands of people displaced by the clashes have taken refuge in the central Nigerian town of Makurdi and surrounding areas, local residents said. The French news agency quoted Red Cross officials as saying that up to 35,000 people had been displaced.

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