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Nigeria: in the name of God

Torched houses, burned cars, devastated populations....For the past ten years, the city of Jos has been repeatedly shaken by ethnic and sectarian violence, opposing Christian and Muslim communities. Thousands have died in these clashes which are becoming increasingly violent. Watch our exclusive report.

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We originally wanted to film a report investigating militias who sow terror in the town of Jos, the capital of Plateau state, in the centre of Nigeria. But events decided otherwise.

On December 24th, bombs went off in two Christian areas of the town. We arrived a few hours later, in the early hours of Christmas morning. Jos resembled a battlefield. 32 people were killed and 74 others injured in seven explosions. Some of them were doing their Christmas shopping in town. In a state of shock, the population is divided between dismay and a strong feeling of vengeance.

Located on an invisible border between the mainly Muslim north and primarily Christian south, Jos is where all the tensions flare up. For the past ten years, the three “indigenous” ethnic groups – who are mainly Christian – have been fighting with members of the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups, who are mainly Muslim and considered as “settlers”.

What was to begin as just a battle for the ownership of land has turned into a bloody sectarian conflict in which politicians have interfered. Violence has repeated itself again and again; in 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2008. And in 2010 alone, over 500 people were killed in three separate outbursts of violence.

Each time the violence flares up, army reinforcements are sent in and the usual suspects are rounded up and sent to Abuja, the federal capital, to be tried there. But in reality, those who are really behind these massacres are never given any hassle.

As a result, Jos has gradually become divided. Christian districts can be found on one side, Muslim areas on the other. The inhabitants have become increasingly armed on both sides, saying this is to assure their own security. Worsened by youth unemployment and inequality, their grievances have become more and more radical. Today, each side blames the other for the massacres and nurses a strong loathing for the other group.

After the Christmas Eve bombings, clashes broke out between the Christian and Muslim communities.

This is the story of a hatred that military and police manoeuvres are struggling to reign in.

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