JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least 12 Nigerians on Sunday were killed in clashes in the central city of Jos as tensions reignited between Muslims and Christian gangs, a year after similar fighting killed hundreds of its residents.
The city was placed under a night time curfew between 6 p.m. (12 p.m. ET) and 6 a.m. to ease tensions that began early Sunday after an argument on the rebuilding of homes destroyed in the November 2008 clashes, residents said.
A Reuters correspondent counted 12 bodies at Jos University Teaching Hospital and at the city’s main mosque. There were reports of as many as 20 dead and several houses destroyed.
“I cannot give casualty figures now until my men complete their full investigation. Thirty-five people were arrested,” said Gregory Anyating, police commissioner for Plateau state.
The fighting has so far been confined to one neighborhood where Muslims and Christians live side-by-side, a resident said.
In November 2008, fighting spread throughout the city and hundreds were killed in two-days of clashes triggered by a disputed election. The fighting was the worst between Muslim and Christian gangs in years in Africa’s most populous country.
Nigeria has roughly the same number of Christians and Muslims, although traditional animist beliefs underpin many people’s faith.
More than 200 ethnic groups generally live peacefully side by side in the West African country, although civil war left one million people dead between 1967 and 1970 and there have been bouts of religious unrest since then.
Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Louise Ireland