Nigeria riots: Victims buried; Christians threaten reprisal

Nigeria riots: Victims buried; Christians threaten reprisal Abuja: Corpses of the victims of communal riots have been buried in mass graves in the northern Nigerian city of Jos where attackers killed more than 500 people in a weekend attack, even as Christian leaders in a Southern state have threatened reprisal against the killers.

Machete-wielding and gun totting marauders besieged a village close to Jos early Sunday morning and shot into the air thereby attracting villagers mostly Christians. They shot and killed the villagers mostly children and women when they tried to escape their onslaught.

Nigerian police said they have arrested 19 of the suspected attackers just as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has called for maximum restraint by quarrelling factions in the city.

Jos, located 350 km northeast of Nigerian capital Abuja, has witnessed several violence in the past leading to loss of hundreds of lives with the latest being in January this year when 500 people died in the communal riots.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan had issued a statement declaring a security red alert and ordered troops deployment to quell violence in the city.

The attackers are suspected to be Fulani ethnic herdsmen who wanted to revenge the January killing in Jos where Muslims were said to be the larger number of the victims.

The city is populated by ethnic Berom who are often referred to as indigenes and the Hausa-Fulani group seen as settlers. Struggle for cultivable land and political power are usually behind the killings.

Meanwhile, a South-eastern Nigeria Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria has threatened reprisal if the Nigerian government fails to find solution to the attacks.

State Chairman of CAN Bishop Cletus Bassey said: "Federal Government of Nigeria owe the citizens of this nation an explanation of what has happened to the different committees that were set up at different time where these issues (crises) that had repeated themselves."

In January, a similar crisis led to the death of more than 300 persons and thousands were displaced. The Nigerian government is still investigating the cause of the January crisis.

The two out break of violence occurred in the absence of the country's president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who was flown back home from Saudi Arabia where he went to receive medical treatment.

Nobody has seen him in public since then and his arrival was preceded by the endorsement of Goodluck as acting president. The acting president faces a big challenge to restore peace in a state that is divided between Northern Muslim settlers and the Berom indigenes who perceive them as power hungry.