At least 200 people in the mainly Christian villages south of Jos were killed last Sunday. The attacks have been blamed on Fulani muslims.
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'They herded us into one place and started chopping with machetes...' The Independent
Jos has been ravaged by sectarian violence, with hundreds killed and thrown into mass graves. Daniel Howden, the first British newspaper journalist to visit the Nigerian town since the massacre, hears the survivors' stories
One of the truths can be found in the mass graves at Dogo Nahawa, a village of mud bricks and corrugated iron roofs a few miles south of the city. Most of the bodies from the latest massacre lie under a fresh mound of red earth still criss-crossed with the tracks of the bulldozer that dug the pit. The grave is unmarked but Peam Shut knows where it is. Seventeen members of his family are among the more than 100 bodies that lie there.
He approaches, clutching his face and crying, to say what happened. He was woken last Sunday morning by a gunshot. He went outside to see a group of men, carrying machetes and clubs, throw a petrol bomb at his brother's house. He watched as his brother's wife, Hanatu, tried to flee: "She couldn't get away, they rushed her and they butchered her." The attackers then turned his way and shouted: "There are the other cattle." That's when Peam ran. Somehow he was able to hide but his wife and son were not so lucky, and were cut to pieces.
A short distance away, across a furrowed patch of maize, is the village itself. This was the killing field where hundreds of Muslims from the Fulani people set upon their erstwhile neighbours, the mainly Christian Berom. Bloodstains have dried on the wall of an outlying house, and next to it a blackened tree marks the spot where Dung Gwonm was hacked and burnt to death.
A few metres further away are the ruins of Pastor Johana Gyang Jugu's church. His loss is drawn in deep lines on his hollow face. He tells what has become a familiar story of waking to gunfire and desperately running for your life. His wife, Rose, and 18-year-old daughter, Mary, ran with him but were separated in the confusion. He turned back to see them both cut down. "I tried my best," he said, as if to apologise. "There is nothing I can do, I am just crying."
Sadly, in Jos these numbers matter. For Mr Lipdo, the villagers are the face of a "new Darfur" – victims of a "violent Muslim expansion". He is among those who see this as part of a world-wide Islamic advance. But this is only his truth. Jos is the capital of Nigeria's fertile "middle belt", a highland plateau where missionaries converted animist farmers to Christianity. Tin deposits were later found in the area and the colonial government brought Hausa Muslim labourers from further north. Jos and its satellite villages have been mixed and metropolitan ever since.
It is – as the local police commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba says – "a mini Nigeria". Like Jos, Africa's most populous nation is thought to be evenly split between the two faiths, with Muslims predominant in the north and Christians in the south, but everywhere a mixed picture. In Jos, population growth and economic decline has increased competition for land and other resources, heightening tension between communities.
Politics here have been poisoned by the distinction between the longer-standing Christians, or "indigenes", and Muslim "settlers". The former are favoured in land rights, the latter denied the opportunity to stand in elections. This has caused resentment, which has erupted in 2001, 2004 and 2008, leaving thousands dead, many more displaced and the city polarised. The truth depends on where you are in Jos.