20 Muslim Worshipers Shot dead in Nigeria

By IndepthAfrica
In Nigeria
Oct 14th, 2012

Gunmen opened fire on Muslim worshipers on Sunday as they were leaving a mosque in northern Nigeria, killing at least 20 people, a local official said.

The attack happened in a remote village called Dogo Dawa, in Kaduna state, said the official, Abdullahi Muhammad, the traditional ruler and councilor of Birnin Gwari, a government area near the village.

The state police commissioner, Olufemi Adenaike, confirmed the incident, but said he could not confirm the death toll.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Like much of northern Nigeria, Kaduna is plagued by an insurgency led by the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram. They usually attack security forces, government officials or Christians, but have hit Muslim clerics and mosques, especially ones that do not follow their hard-line brand of Islam.

Kaduna is also close to Nigeria’s volatile “Middle Belt,” where Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south meet, and where tensions over land and ethnicity often erupt into violence.

But Mr. Abdulladhi said the attack was probably carried out by a local gang.

“We are suspecting a reprisal attack by gangs of armed robbers who lost some of their members after a recent exchange of fire with the villagers and the vigilantes,” he said. “The village had been terrorized by an armed group operating from camps in the forest.”

The Islamist insurgency in northern Nigeria and weapons flooding in from its neighbors on the threshold of the Sahara have aggravated violence in the region. Armed robberies and local disputes degenerating into deadly shootouts are increasingly common across the impoverished north.

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