Published January 23, 2010
At least 150 bodies were recovered from wells following deadly Muslim-Christian clashes in central Nigeria, a village headman said Saturday, taking the unofficial death toll past 400.
"So far we have picked 150 bodies from the wells. But 60 more people are still missing," Umar Baza, head of Kuru Karama village near the city of Jos, told AFP by telephone.
"We took an inventory of the displaced people from this village, sheltering in three camps, and we realize that 60 people can still not be accounted for," he said. "We believe there are more bodies in the wells."
The unrest erupted on Sunday over plans to build a mosque in a mainly Christian district of the city, a hotbed of sectarian tensions for many years. Mobs set fire to buildings while many people were shot dead.
The Head of the Muslim volunteer team for the victims' burial, 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," he 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."
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."
A Muslim official who visited Kuru Karama to arrange for the burial of bodies told HRW that 121 corpses had been recovered, including those of 22 young children.
Dozens of them were "stuffed down wells or in sewage pits," HRW said in a statement.
The state government has given no official death toll for the violence, which broke out in Jos, capital of Plateau State, and spread to nearby towns and villages.