Many dead in Nigerian election protests

Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:12pm GMT

By Joe Brock

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Rioting erupted across Nigeria's largely Muslim north on Monday and the Red Cross spoke of many dead as youths torched churches and homes in anger at President Goodluck Jonathan's election victory.

The vote count showed Jonathan, from the southern oil-producing Niger Delta, had beaten Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler from the north, in the first round.

Observers have called the poll the fairest in decades in Africa's most populous nation but Buhari's supporters accuse the ruling party of rigging and his Congress for Progressive Change Party rejected results announced so far.

Those results show how polarised the country is, with Buhari sweeping the north and Jonathan winning the largely Christian south. Jonathan had nearly 23 million votes to just over 12 million for Buhari according to final figures.

The Nigerian Red Cross said churches, mosques and homes had been burned in rioting across the north and many people had been killed, but it was impossible to give a toll for now.

"In Kaduna we have seen dead bodies lying by the road," Red Cross official Umar Mairiga told Reuters. "Two thousand people have been displaced at one military camp alone."

Authorities in the northern state of Kaduna imposed a 24-hour curfew after protesters set fire to the residence of Vice President Namadi Sambo in the town of Zaria and forced their way into the central prison, releasing inmates.

The body of a small boy shot in the chest by a stray bullet was brought to a police station, a witness said.   Continued...

<p>A mosque is set on fire by protesters after the release of the presidential elections results in Kano, northern Nigeria, April 18, 2011. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde</p>
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