Nigerian ‘revenge killings’ leave 16 dead

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Vehicle for checks on a road

Vehicle for checks on a road

Attack on Tafawa Balewa linked to earlier violence following the re-election of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan

At least 16 people have been killed in northern Nigeria in what appears to be more sectarian violence following April’s presidential election.

The attack on the town of Tafawa Balewa, in Bauchi state, was in revenge for earlier killings in the area, according to residents. Houses were also reportedly set alight.

“Sixteen people have been confirmed killed by unidentified attackers,” said Bauchi police commissioner John Aba Kasanga.

The attack comes after at least 500 people were killed last month in protests following the re-election of incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. A Christian from the south, Goodluck defeated Muhammadu Buhari, a former army ruler who is popular in the Muslim north.

Bauchi neighbours Plateau state in Nigeria’s “middle belt”, where the Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south, leading to tension over the control of fertile farmlands and economic and political power.

There have been frequent clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in villages around Jos, the capital of Plateau. Earlier this year hundreds of people died in attacks there.

But the worst violence has taken place in the southern part of Kaduna state, which also borders Plateau. It shares the ethnic and religious diversity of the remaining middle belt.

Jonathan, who has widespread support in the south but also gained millions of northern votes, has promised an “all-inclusive” government to heal the rifts.

Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party says it has evidence that electoral commission computers were rigged and that the vote count was manipulated in Jonathan’s favour. It has vowed to contest the outcome in court.

The party has asked a tribunal to compel the electoral commission to preserve all the ballot boxes and data capture machines used in the polls for forensic examination.

It wants access to the new biometric voter register so that it can cross-check thumbprints on ballot papers.

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