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Eight dead in Nigeria violence

Christian youths have attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in central Nigeria, killing seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence which left one other person dead, an official said.

It is the latest unrest in a fertile region which saw more than 500 people killed last year in massacres pitting Christians against Muslims.

The violence began as Christian youths blocked a road, trapping the Muslims inside their car, said lawyer Ahmed Garba, a member of an Islamic religious council.

He told journalists that seven people died in the attack and one survived.

Mr Garba said that, once news of the attack spread, Muslims began retaliatory violence in the streets of Jos which left at least one person dead.

State police commissioner Abdurrahman Akano said investigators received word of the attack, but had not found any bodies. That is not uncommon as Muslims traditionally bury their dead as soon as possible.

Manassie Panpe, the Red Cross's state secretary, said officials from the aid organisation had found several injured people in the streets but that information remained scarce.

Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Jos is in the nation's "middle belt", where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands.

The Jos violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands.

The government of Plateau state, where Jos is the capital, is controlled by Christian politicians who have blocked Muslims from being legally recognised as citizens. That has locked many out of prized government jobs in a region where the tourism industry and tin mining have collapsed in the last decades.

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