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Mass burials for hundreds killed in Nigeria slaughter

Mass burials were being held yesterday for the hundreds of victims slaughtered in religious revenge attacks in central Nigeria.

The death toll from the raids at the weekend by machete-wielding Muslims on Christian villages rose to more than 200, including a four-day-old baby.

The violence in three villages near the city of Jos appeared to be a reprisal following rioting in January when most of the victims were Muslims.

The bodies of the dead lined dusty streets. In a makeshift morgue those of children lay tangled with each other. Another young victim appeared to have been scalped, while others had severed hands and feet.

Jos has been under a dusk-to-dawn curfew enforced by the military since January's religious-based violence. It was not clear how the latest attackers managed to elude it.

More than 600 people fled to a makeshift camp that still held victims from January's violence, putting an even bigger strain on the already limited humanitarian aid for those fleeing the violence.

The killings came in an area once known as Nigeria's top tourist destination, adding to the toll of thousands in the last decade in the name of religious and political ambitions.

Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people and Muslim-Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004. More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008.

Jos lies in Nigeria's “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups mingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.

In Jos, Muslims have complained about being denied jobs by the Christian government.

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