Violence feared after Nigerian cops kill civilians

The killing of a civilian by the police has sparked fears of sectarian and religious violence.

Updated: Feb 10, 2012, 00:16 AM IST

Abuja: The killing of a civilian by the
police has sparked fears of sectarian and religious violence,
prompting people to flee Nigeria`s southeastern Onitsha city
officials said Thursday.

An officer suspected to be Hausa from Muslim north shot
and killed a Christian of Ibo ethnic group who are predominant
in the city, Police spokesman Emeka Chukwuemeka said.

According to him, the policeman has been arrested for
prosecution but an eyewitness told PTI on condition of
anonymity that the Christian was driving a bus and refused to
pay bribe to a policeman at a checkpoint who subsequently shot
him dead.

"Ibo people gathered the Hausas at a place with the
intention of killing them when the military arrived," she
said, adding that she was not sure if anybody was killed
before the arrival of the military men.

Another eyewitness said the bus driver killed had the
symbol of a separatist group, Movement for the Actualisation
of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and this infuriated
members of the group who started dismantling every checkpoint
in the commercial city.

According to him, this action frightened the northerners
who started fleeing to military barracks fearing reprisal for
the killings of northern-based radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram
which has killed hundreds of people in recent times.

The 150-million Nigeria has both Muslim and Christian
population, with Muslims predominant in the north while
Christians mostly live in the South.

PTI