Over 500 killed in post-election clashes in Nigeria

Youths hold wooden and metal sticks while running battles broke out between protesters and soldiers in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, on April 18, 2011 as President Goodluck Jonathan headed for an election win (AFP Photo / Seyllou)
Human rights organizations say the violence that has swept Africa’s most populous nation since elections on April 16th has forced over 40,000 people to flee their homes in fear of their lives.

Rioting broke out when it emerged that Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian, had defeated a Muslim candidate from the mostly Islamic north. The Civic Rights Congress, a Nigerian human rights group, said most of the violence occurred in the northern province of Kaduna.

Muslim opposition supporters staged riots on Monday when it became clear that their favored candidate, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, had lost the ballot. Outraged over the 57 to 31 per cent defeat, armed protesters took to the streets chanting Buhari's name and attacking Christian supporters of the president. Churches were set alight and Muslims were then targeted in revenge attacks. In several northern cities, many Christians took shelter in police and military barracks – and were forced to celebrate Easter there.

On Sunday, explosions across Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno killed three people and wounded 14. Authorities are blaming Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect which over the last year, has launched a series of bombings against Nigeria's weak central government. Its members are attempting to implement strict Sharia law across the nation.