More than 200 bodies, many of them women and children, lay in the streets of a central Nigerian town after a renewed spate of Christian-Muslim violence, witnesses said Sunday, just months after religious violence tore through a nearby city and left hundreds dead.
Yemi Kosoko, a reporter with the independent Nigerian news network Channels, told The Associated Press most of the bodies appeared to be women and children killed by blows from machetes.
Kosoko said the dead lined the streets of Dogo Nahawa, a village about five kilometres south of the city of Jos. Kosoko said he made the count Sunday afternoon with an official from the state government.
Military units began surrounding the affected villages around the same time, said Red Cross spokesman Robin Waubo. Waubo said the agency did not know how many people may have died in the fighting, though officials have been sent to local morgues and hospitals.
Witnesses said the violence began in the mostly Christian village at about 3 a.m. Sunday — an hour when the area should have been under curfew and guarded by the military. Jos has remained under a curfew since violence in January left more than 300 people dead, the majority of them Muslims.
Police and military officials declined to comment on the attack or the motivation for the violence.
"It appears to be reprisal attacks," Waubo said.
In nearby Bauchi state, more than 600 people fled to a makeshift camp still holding victims of January's violence, said Red Cross official Adamu Abubakar.
"They started running away from the fighting," Abubakar said by phone. He said more continued to come.
Sectarian violence in this region of Nigeria has left thousands dead over the past decade. The latest outbreak came despite the Nigerian government's efforts to quell religious extremism in the West African country.