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30 December 2011

Gunmen kill toddler near Nigeria flashpoint city

JOS, Nigeria — Gunmen have shot dead a three-year-old girl and her parents near the volatile central Nigerian city of Jos, a government spokesman and residents said Wednesday

The killing in the Christian-dominated village comes amid growing fears of civil unrest in the country following a deadly string of Christmas attacks claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram.

"Three people -- a man, his wife and daughter -- have been confirmed killed in that (Uwuk) village. They were attacked in the night while they were asleep," Plateau state spokesman Ayuba Paro told AFP.

Paro quoted the villagers as saying that attackers who struck late Tuesday were suspected to be Fulani tribesmen, a mostly Muslim group which has been blamed for previous raids on the village.

Uwuk village, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) outside Plateau state capital Jos, belongs to the mainly Christian Berom ethnic group.

A sister of the slain woman told AFP that the attack happened about 10:00 pm (2100 GMT).

"I was in the next village when they called me to tell me that my sister had been killed. She, her husband and their three-year-old daughter were shot and stabbed in their rooms," she said.

A former councillor in the area, Peter Dachumgas, said "all the people they killed were sleeping in one house and only one person, the younger brother of the slain man escaped through the window."

Jos lies in the middle-belt region between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south of Africa's most populous nation.

Dozens were killed last year on Christmas Eve in Jos in multiple bomb attacks claimed by by the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram as well as in subsequent clashes.

Northern Nigeria has been hit by scores of bomb and gun attacks blamed on Boko Haram, which also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja which killed 24 people.

A bomb attack on a Roman Catholic Church outside the capital Abuja on Christmas Day killed at least 35 people, raising fears of a fresh wave of sectarian unrest in Africa's most populous country.



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