Nigeria rights group says over 500 killed in riots

Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:41pm GMT

By Nick Tattersall

LAGOS (Reuters) - More than 500 people were killed in post-election violence last week in the mostly Muslim north, a Nigerian human rights group said on Sunday, and it warned of further unrest during state elections.

Youths launched protests in northern towns and cities after President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, was declared the victor of an April 16 election, defeating former military ruler and northern Muslim Muhammadu Buhari.

Observers and many Nigerians say the vote was the most credible in Africa's most populous nation for decades and world leaders have congratulated Jonathan. But Buhari says the count was rigged and his supporters have refused to accept defeat.

Nigeria's Civil Rights Congress (CRC) said more than 500 people were killed on Monday and Tuesday in three towns alone -- Zonkwa, Kafanchan and Zangon Kataf -- in the southern part of Kaduna state, one of the worst-hit areas.

"The victims were encircled, raided and hacked to death and their homes burned," CRC president Shehu Sani said in a report based on testimony from the group's members in the communities.

Churches, mosques, homes and shops were set ablaze in the rioting. Although a military-enforced curfew brought the violence under control in major cities after little more than a day, soldiers took longer to deploy to more remote towns.

Sani said the CRC -- which is based in Kaduna -- confirmed 316 dead in Zonkwa, 147 in Zangon Kataf and 83 in Kafanchan.

"Soldiers did not get there until afterwards," he 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. Rioting erupted across Nigeria's largely Muslim north on Monday and the Red Cross said many people were killed as youths torched churches, mosque and homes in anger at President Goodluck Jonathan's election victory. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde (NIGERIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY)</p>
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