16 Nigerian soldiers die in ethnic clashes

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The Independent Online

In a new round of ethnic clashes in Nigeria, the mutilated bodies of 16 soldiers have been discovered in the east of the country. The killing of the soldiers, whose corpses were found outside a school at Zaki-Biam in Benue State, on Friday, is likely to be linked to a decade-long feud between the Tiv, Jukun and Fulani tribes that centres on access to grazing land, water and housing.

Even though the bodies were found in Benue, the killings are believed to have been carried out in Taraba state. The soldiers, from the 23rd armoured brigade, 15th mechanised division, were deployed in the region earlier this year. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with more than 110 million people, is often the scene of clashes because trade, land ownership and other privileges are traditionally determined along ethnic or religious lines.

Since 11 September, the country has seen an upsurge in violence between Muslims and Christians in the north of the country, where the religions cohabit, and hardliners have enforced Islamic law. In Kano after Friday's prayers, police fired teargas to break up a Muslim demonstration against the airstrikes on Afghanistan, and several people were reportedly injured.

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