Jalingo, Nigeria - An attack on a mosque by youths in eastern Nigeria erupted into bloodshed, leaving at least five people dead as religious violence continued between Christians and Muslims in Africa's most populous nation, witnesses and police said Wednesday.
The violence began Tuesday in the community of Wukari in Taraba state, police commissioner Aliyu Musa told The Associated Press. There, Christians upset with a mosque in their neighborhood burned the house of worship to the ground, the commissioner said.
Street fighting erupted between Christian and Muslim youths, leaving at least five people dead, witnesses said. A local reporter told the AP that he counted at least 15 wounded at one public hospital, while being told others sought treatment at private clinics.
By the end of the violence, several mosques and churches had been burned, witnesses said. Wednesday morning, security forces moved into Wukari, bringing an uneasy calm to the community. Authorities put a dusk-til-dawn curfew in place in hope of stopping retaliatory attacks.
Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim-held north. Since democracy took hold in the oil-rich nation in 1999, ensuing waves of religious violence between the two faiths have claimed the lives of thousands in the last decade over religious and political friction .
This year alone, fighting between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria has left more than 500 dead.
Meanwhile, a radical Islamic sect has made threats to launch a new wave of violence while sending messages of support to al-Qaida in Iraq and threatening the United States.