Christians Strike Back in Southern Nigeria

After brutal weekend attacks in northern Nigeria where over 30 churches were torched and dozens of mostly Christians slaughtered, southern Nigerian Christians struck back against Muslims on Tuesday and Wednesday.

People load a body into a truck in a street in Onitsha, Nigeria, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006. Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha on Wednesday as the death toll from days of Christian-Muslim violence across the volatile West African nation rose to at least 93. The sectarian violence was sparked by deadly weekend protests against cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/str)

Several people were reported killed in southern Nigeria in revenge attacks on Muslims for the slaughter of Christian Nigerians on the weekend:

On Tuesday, bands of youths armed with clubs, machetes and petrol cans rampaged through the streets of Onitsha in Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south, attacking Muslims and their properties, killing several people, according to several residents.

“I have seen three corpses myself and have spoken to other people who saw at least three in other districts,” Okechukwu Nwaka, a spare parts trader in Onitsha told IRIN.

Police and officials were not immediately available for confirmation.

The violence came days after attacks against Christians in the northern city of Maiduguri on Saturday, in which police said at least 17 people were killed and 30 churches razed. Another violent protest on Monday left at least five dead in the mainly Muslim city of Bauchi.

In the Onitsha violence, thousands of northerners fled to the city’s main military barracks for refuge, other witnesses said.

Initially published in a Denmark newspaper in September, the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad have sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide.

Two mosques were also burnt to the ground in the south.

Nigerian troops chase angry mobs in a street in Onitsha, Nigeria, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006. Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha on Wednesday as the death toll from days of Christian-Muslim violence across the volatile West African nation rose to at least 93. (AP)

The Muslims suffered brutal attacks in the south:

“There are thousands of boys with cutlasses and sticks on the rampage. I’ve counted at least 20 bodies here by the Onitsha bridge. They are Hausas. Some of them are burnt and some have their stomachs cut open,” said Reuters photographer George Esiri.

The Hausa are the main ethnic group in the north, while Onitsha is located in the ethnic Ibo heartland. Rioting started in Onitsha on Tuesday after news of the northern riots emerged.

At least 30 people were killed at the Bridge Head Market near the bank of the River Niger.

Nigerian troops stand patrol past dead bodies lying on the ground in a street in Onitsha, Nigeria, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006. Bodies littered the streets of the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha on Wednesday. The sectarian violence was sparked by deadly weekend protests against cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/str)

Previously:
Nigerian Muslims Slaughter Christians, Torch 11 Churches
Nigerians Rampage with Machetes After Koran is Desecrated

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