Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gunfire, blasts as Muslims and Christians clash in northern Nigeria

KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian Muslims fired AK-47 rifles, burned tires and destroyed at least one church in the northern city of Kaduna on Tuesday, two days after rioting by Christian youths killed 52 people, witnesses said.

An explosion also struck a market in Kaduna, residents said, during the latest of a series of retaliatory confrontations between followers of the two faiths in Africa's largest oil producer.

The escalating violence has raised fears of wider sectarian conflict in a country already reeling from months of attacks on government buildings and churches by followers of the Islamist sect Boko Haram.

The movement styled on the Taliban appears bent on provoking Christian-Muslim clashes as part of its campaign to carve an Islamic state out of parts of Nigeria.

"They (the Muslims) are out on the streets, burning tires and shooting. They burned a church," said one witness in Kaduna, who only gave his first name, Suleiman, for fear of reprisals.