State of War

Gwynne Dyer
Published: Wednesday, 05/26/2004 12:00 am EDT

The worst killing in the world this month was in Nigeria, which isn't officially at war. Nigerian police routinely underestimate the number of people killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians, believing that the true numbers will just encourage revenge killings elsewhere, but at least 600 Muslims were murdered in the central state of Plateau in early May in a steep escalation of tit-for-tat killings between Fulani cattle-herders (Muslim) and Tarok farmers (Christian) over land and cattle. "Allah will avenge us," said one survivor in the burnt-out town of Yelwa. "The pagans have killed our people." Revenge came a week later, although not against those guilty of the murders. Between 500 and 600 Christians were killed in the Muslim-majority city of Kano in northern Nigeria by gangs of Muslims youths armed with machetes and clubs. Many of the bodies were burned and mutilated, and as in Yelwa even children were killed.

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