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Posted: 11/20/2003 6:58:39 AM EDT
www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06376353.htm


Islamic militants burned to the ground thirteen churches and several houses in a remote northern Nigerian town after a Christian student was accused of blasphemy, police said on Thursday.

Irate youths torched churches, houses and shops late on Tuesday in Kazaure, some 80 km (50 miles) north of Kano, a northern provincial capital where hundreds have died in religious clashes in the past three years.

The dispute began when a Christian student was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad and a group of Muslims were not satisfied with the response of school authorities.

Abubakar Sale, police commissioner in the northern Jigawa state, told Reuters that the rioters attempted to invade the school but were repelled by police.

"The hoodlums then mobilised and went into town where they started looting and burning people's property," Sale said by phone from Dutse, the state capital.

"Thirteen churches were burnt, several houses and shops were torched, but there were no deaths," said Keirian Dudari, assistant inspector general of police in Kano.

Police said the town was calm on Thursday after reinforcements were deployed to quell the riots.

The violence came after three students were killed and more than 30 injured in fighting between Muslims and Christians at a university in northeastern city of Maiduguri earlier this month.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in religious violence in northern Nigeria in the past four years since the introduction of Islamic sharia law in 12 states.





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