Violent communal clashes have erupted again in central Nigeria. The United States wishes to express its deep concern for the tragic loss of life and urges all parties to exercise restraint and seek constructive means for addressing this continuing cycle of violence.
Government officials and human rights groups estimate that hundreds of people, many of whom were women and children, were brutally beaten and killed near the city of Jos, a center of long-running ethnic and religious tension. The attack is believed to have been a reprisal for similar violence in January, when an estimated 300 people in villages around the area were killed. Those attacks, in turn, followed other incidents stretching back several years.
Police arrested many people in response to the violence. We will be watching for free and fair trials to ensure that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable. The continuing pattern of impunity simply multiplies the tensions and injustices caused by these unnecessary deaths. It also adds more fuel to the rivalries, poverty and other factors underlying the violence there, as family members feel they must punish the attackers themselves.
The Nigerian government must make a comprehensive effort to address the underlying issues that provide fertile environment for these incidents. Improved state leadership is essential, with the goal of ending the cycle of these sectarian conflicts once and for all.