At least 150 bodies have been recovered from wells following Muslim-Christian clashes in central Nigeria in which the estimated death toll already stood at over 300, a village head and volunteers told journalists on Saturday.
“So far we have picked 150 bodies from the wells. But 60 more people are still missing, said Umar Baza, head of Kuru Karama village near the city of Jos.
“We took an inventory of the displaced people from this village, sheltering in three camps and we realise that 60 people can still not be accounted for,” he added, speaking by telephone.
Head of the Muslim volunteer team in the village, Mohammed Shittu, said further searches would be carried out on Saturday.
“Now we have 150 bodies in all, taken from the wells as from Thursday. We are still going back there today (Saturday) to comb the bush around the village to search for more bodies,” he also told AFP.
“From the account of survivors, some people fleeing attacks were ambushed and killed in the bush. That is why we are going there to search for more bodies.
“We believe there are more bodies in the wells but the degree of their decomposition makes it difficult to continue the retrieval operation. We have therefore decided to sand-fill all the wells,” said Baza.
The state government has given no official death toll for the violence, which broke out last Sunday in Jos, capital of Plateau State and later spread to nearby towns and villages, but religious leaders and medical workers said they had counted around 300 bodies by Wednesday.
Global rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday urged Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to order “an immediate criminal investigation into credible reports of a massacre of at least 150 Muslim residents of a town in central Nigeria.”
HRW said in a statement received in Lagos that witnesses said groups of armed men - believed to be Christians - attacked the largely Muslim population of Kuru Karama on Tuesday morning.
“After surrounding the town, they hunted down and attacked Muslim residents, some of whom had sought refuge in homes and a local mosque, killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive,” the statement said.