A Nigerian soldier walks past a burned building in the regional capital of Kaduna, where riots between Christians and Muslims have claimed more than 1,000 lives.
Thousands of Christians in northern Nigeria were displaced from their homes and took shelter in police and army barracks following violence between Christians and Muslims in Kano City in October.
Officials of the Nigerian Red Cross said that the agency had provided food and medical assistance to hundreds of Christians who took refuge in the barracks following riots that broke out after demonstrations protesting against the United States-led action in Afghanistan.
A police spokesperson in Kano said that 32 people had been killed in the violence that lasted from Oct. 12 to 15. The police also said that 51 people were injured and five churches were burnt down.
However, a Nigerian Red Cross official in Kano put the death toll at more than 100 and Christian leaders in the region said the figure was twice this.
Zakka Nyam, Anglican bishop of Kano, told ENI that he had received information from Christians working in two of Kano’s hospitals that “over 200 dead bodies were deposited in these two hospitals.”
The riots broke out after protests on Oct. 12, during which demonstrators burned five U.S. flags and an effigy of President George W. Bush. Demonstrators denounced the United States and expressed support for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
According to news reports, following the demonstrations youths began setting fire to cars and religious buildings, and the violence quickly spread to many parts of Kano, particularly those with large non-Muslim populations.
A number of Muslims were killed in retaliatory attacks by Christians. The police in Kano reported that one mosque was completely destroyed and other, smaller places of worship suffered heavy damage.
Christian leaders have criticised the government for its apparent inability to deal with the violence. Muslim leaders have also been reported as calling for restraint.