Ethnic clash in Nigeria kills 27

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The Independent Online

Yoruba and Hausa traders clashed at a market in a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital Thursday, killing at least 27 people and setting fire to dozens of stalls.

Yoruba and Hausa traders clashed at a market in a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital Thursday, killing at least 27 people and setting fire to dozens of stalls.

Yoruba and Hausa traders have been vying for control of the sprawling food market in Kedu, about 12 kilometers north of Lagos.

The conflict turned bloody Thursday when the Yoruba traders, backed by members of the militant Odua People's Congress, clashed with their Hausa counterparts using guns and machetes.

Dozens of stalls were set alight, and at least three people were burned to death when flaming tires were forced around their waists.

The fighting raged for two hours before police restored order.

Antiriot police cordoned off the market, where smoke still billowed late Thursday from the charred stalls and corpses littered the entrance.

Police reported 27 bodies had been found, President Olusegun Obasanjo said in a television interview in Abuja. Many more people were injured.

"We cannot allow this country to be taken over by hoodlums," Obasanjo said.

He said he had ordered police to arrest anyone associated with the Odua People's Congress, a collection of Yoruba tribal leaders and activists who have said they want a separate Yoruba state in southwestern Nigeria. Anyone resisting arrest would be "shot at sight," Obasanjo said.

Police in Lagos were placed on a state of alert in case the violence should spread.

The West African country's 250-plus tribes have a turbulent history of ethnic tension that often erupts into violence.

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