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19 April 2010

Nigerian troops foil sectarian attack

1149357073.jpgJOS, Nigeria — The Nigerian army said Monday it had averted an attack by suspected Muslim extremists on a mainly Christian village in the flashpoint central Plateau State, killing two gunmen.

The pair were part of gang that planned to raid Bisichi village, on the outskirts of Jos, the capital of Plateau, where hundreds of people have been killed in ethno-religious violence, a military commander said. The attack early Monday was foiled by members of a military task force deployed in the area following recent violence. "Our guys were on regular patrol when they they received a distress call that the village was about to be attacked, so when they approached the village and in a shoot-out that followed, two of them (the gang) were gunned down," Brigadier General Donald Oji told AFP by phone. A manhunt has been launched for the rest of the group which fled in the pre-dawn encounter. "What would have been a major setback to peace was averted," Oji, the military spokesman for the area said. A home-made rifle was recovered along with military-issue ammunition. In what appeared to be a reprisal for earlier violence, herdsmen from the mainly Muslim Fulani clan launched a wave of attacks on five Christian villages in March, slaughtering more than 500 people according to state officials. Oji said the population of Bisichi village, about 20 kilometres south of Jos, is a mixture of Christians and Muslims. Jos has long been the centre of ethno-religious violence in a country whose 150 million population is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims

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