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Reports estimate that between 67 and 300 are dead after Christian ethnic Taroks attacked Muslim cattle-herders in the town of Yelwa in central Nigeria's Plateau State. The Tarok ethnic group used machine guns mounted on jeeps, along with rifles and machetes, to attack the Muslim community. Possibly three mosques were damaged and at least 67 people have been buried, while hundreds more have fled or disappeared. Just last week, the Christian Tarok were attacked by the Muslim Hausa in the region.

In the most recent attack, the Associated Press reports that more that 100 were killed and 1,000 homes destroyed. "It will take time to account for the exact number of dead and missing. It's mass murder, because machine guns were used, not machetes," Justice Abdulkadir Orire, secretary general of the Jama'atu Nasril Islam, told Agence France-Presse.

Orire told Reuters that the attack had been planned and received the help of local officials. "Police stationed in Yelwa had been withdrawn four days before the attack, despite complaints from local Muslims that they were surrounded by Taroks and tensions were rising." Orire said. "It seems the governor is supporting the move. We heard that the government said non-indigenes should move out of the area. That is very bad. He should look after everyone in the state and not just his own tribe."

President Olusegun Obasanjo sent as many as 600 riot police to the area to prevent more attacks. According to Reuters, "Yelwa has already witnessed one of the most horrific massacres of the conflict, when 48 Christians were killed by Fulani militia in a church that was later burned in February.

"The last three months have seen the bloodiest fighting in the region since the state capital, Jos, was torn apart ...

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May 2004

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