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A situation in desperate need of hard reporting
According to police in Kano, Nigeria, 30 people died this week as Muslims sought revenge for the murder of hundreds of their fellow believers last week.

Andrew Ubah, general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kano, has a different number. "Almost 600 people have been killed and 12 churches burned," he told Reuters, saying the numbers were based on direct reports from priests across the city.

The news service agrees that the official death count is a gross underestimation, explaining that "Nigerian authorities routinely underestimate death tolls from religious violence in the belief the true figures could spark reprisal attacks."

But do they think they're fooling local Nigerians? David Emmanuel told the news service that "he saw two truck loads of bodies being driven along Kano streets on Wednesday night and counted at least 30 corpses in the street."

Christian leader Mark Amani reports that "some corpses were burned in wells. Even little children were killed. The bodies of pregnant women were ripped open and their bodies burned."

Kano's chief of police told a reporter, "We still stick to our figure of 30 killed and 40 hospitalized … [CAN's] figures are baseless."

When such people who have seen such atrocities with their own eyes hear their government say that less than three dozen were killed, does that really reduce their anxiety and anger? Or does it simply mean that they'll be unable to trust the government?

Likely the latter. The Vanguard newspaper reports that "angry residents alleged that the true reason the bodies were being concealed was to hide evidence that many of the dead had been shot by police, not killed by sectarian mobs."

At a meeting of political ...

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Nigerian Christians Say Nearly 600 Killed In This Week's Riots
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May 2004

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