Fifty Christians Attacked in Nigerian Church

( [email protected] ) Feb 27, 2004 09:44 AM EST

LAGOS, Nigeria – Some 50 people died in the hands of Muslim militants while seeking refuge in a church at the mainly Christian town of Yelwa, Nigeria, police said Wednesday, Feb. 25. According to authorities, the suspected Muslim militants attacked the unarmed victims with guns, bows and arrows on Tuesday.

The attack followed an ambush on Feb. 19, in which gunmen suspected by the police to belong to a Muslim militia, killed four police officers. Earlier that week, a Christian militia killed 10 people in a Muslim village.

The sporadic violence between the two faith groups began not long ago in 1998, when Muslim states in the north adopted the strict Sharia, or Islamic, legal codes, that translated into an expansionist threat to the Christians in the area.

Since then, more than 10,000 people were caught in the religious and ethnic wildfire in Nigeria. More than 1,000 people died in one week at the height of the tension.