Muslims that chose to celebrate Eid, the Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, in a predominately Christian neighborhood in Nigeria have escalated tensions with local Christians Monday, resulting in fighting, deaths and injuries.
Reports are still unclear as to the exact nature of the carnage; some publications report four deaths, while others report up to 20 deaths. Efforts to confirm casualties have been unsuccessful, with police and members of the Special Task Force as yet unwilling to release any further information.
According to the Nigerian publication, The Nation, a group of Christian youths rebuked a Muslim group for praying in their city of Jos. The resulting arguments broke out into full fledged fight.
An eyewitness to the bloody clash on Monday told The Nation, “The soldiers killed at least nine Christian youths in Rukuba road while they were trying to respond to onslaught from the Muslim youths who came to the area to worship in the morning."
“I saw the soldiers shooting indiscriminately and killing people, they killed four in my presence, you can go there and see the corpses,” he added.
According to him, the soldiers were trying to prevent the chaos from escalating further between the two groups.
Jos, state capital of Plateau laying between Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south, has witnessed similar bloody clashes between the two religions in the past due to its connecting center.
During Christmas Eve last year, the radical Muslim group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for explosions and violent attacks targeting Christian locations, resulting in the deaths of about 90 Christians.
Other witnesses observed that more than 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were set ablazed during Monday’s fight, The Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, another publication, allAfrica.com, reports that when the members of a Muslim sect, the Jama'atul Izalatul Bid'ah Wa Ikamatus Sunnah, were walking to the mosque, their path had been blocked by Christian youths.
Soon after the attacks erupted, other Muslim youths arrived to the location.
Another witness said that once the Muslim soldiers arrived, the scene of the violence intensified.
The witness told allAfrica.com, “A military van loaded with Muslim soldiers stormed the scene where youths were carrying out a peaceful protest and opened fire on them, shooting sporadically on the youths resulting to the death of many with others wounded. And when the patrol team came, they all fled.”
The doctor of neighborhood hospital, Dr. Stephen Yohana, reported that 35 people arrived with bullet wounds to the hospital, two of them were dead.