Rocket aimed at Nigerian Muslim school kills boy: army

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2012 9:27 AM
Rocket aimed at Nigerian Muslim school kills boy: army

By Buhari Bello

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - A rocket fired at a Muslim school in the central Nigerian city Jos on Tuesday killed a boy aged about 10, a military spokesman said.

Salisu Mustapha said the rocket had missed the main school building and the boy who was killed was walking on a road nearby and was not a pupil there.

Jos is the capital of Plateau State in the heart of Nigeria's religiously diverse "Middle Belt", where the mostly Muslim north meets the largely Christian south.

Plateau has been a tinderbox of ethnic and religious tensions over land and power between local people and migrants from other areas. More than 1,000 people have been killed in clashes in the state in the last four years.

Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for attacks that killed at least 65 people on July 7 in Plateau and for the assassination of two more people - a prominent senator and a local lawmaker - at a funeral for the casualties the following day.

But security forces blame much of the violence on majority Muslim migrant Fulani herdsmen who have been clashing with Christian Berom communities. The two groups have been fighting over who has a right to fertile farmlands in Plateau.

The military Special Task Force (STF) said this week it will clear out many of the villages affected by the violence this month to restore calm, but Fulani groups say this is a deliberate effort to drive them out of the region.

"This directive by the STF is a reflection that the federal government and its security agencies have fallen into the hands of the Plateau state government," said Ahmed Yandeh, secretary of the Mobgal Fulbe Development Association, a Fulani group.

"Plateau government's agenda has consistently been that of intimidating, killing of Fulbe, destruction of their livestock and properties," Yandeh added.

STF spokesman Mustapha denied the security forces take any sides and said the operation would continue to restore order.

Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people this year in an insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan, including several suicide attacks on churches in Jos.

Security experts believe Boko Haram's attacks on churches in central and northern Nigeria are an attempt to provoke a wider religious conflict inside the country, Africa's biggest oil producer.

(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)