Raids and reprisal attacks have left 52 people dead in Christian villages near a Nigerian city where authorities have struggled to contain religious violence, officials said yesterday.
Assailants launched "sophisticated attacks" on several villages near Jos early Saturday, said Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special task force made up of policemen and soldiers deployed in the area to curb years of violence.
"They came in hundreds," Salisu said. "Some had (police) uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests."
He said the special task force fought back for hours and lost two policemen in the battle. Salisu initially said that 37 people were killed, including 14 civilians and 21 assailants.
However, later in the day, Nigerian Red Cross official Andronicus Adeyemo said aid workers had counted 52 dead and more than 300 displaced people from the attacks. He did not give a breakdown.
He said a federal lawmaker and a state lawmaker were ambushed and killed Sunday afternoon on their way to a mass burial for the victims.
The state government's press officer, James Mannock, said they were Senator Gyang Dantong and majority leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly Gyang Fulani.