Women in Black Protest in Violence-Hit Nigeria State

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JOS, Nigeria (AFP) – Dressed in black and carrying wooden crosses, thousands of women marched Thursday in Nigerian city of Jos to express grief at a new bout of sectarian carnage and anger at the failure to stop it.The demonstration in the flashpoint capital city coincided with the start of a three-day fast ordered by the authorities in central Plateau state in a symbolic commitment to reconciliation between Muslims and Christians.The women, some with babies strapped on their backs and others carrying pictures of the children slaughtered in last Sunday's raid blamed on mainly Muslim Fulani cattle herdsmen, called for justice and withdrawal of troops deployed at the peak of the January religious clashes.Sunday's raid claimed 109 lives according to police, while the local information commissioner put the figure at 500.With recriminations still flying around over the weekend massacre, locals said they would pray for an end to the bloodshed as they had lost faith in the security services.Scene: 'Enough is enough' say Nigerian women"We are mourning because of the children that were killed on Sunday, we are coming as a mass to cry out," said 32-year-old Rebecca Adiwu as she joined in the mass protest in central Jos.Some carried Bibles and some held the branches of mango trees in a sign of solidarity."We do not want soldiers! No more soldiers!" the protesters chanted, waving their Bibles and crosses in the air.Helen Laraba, a 26-year-old tailor who was among the women in black, also vented her anger at the military which has been accused of failing to respond to reports that gangs of machete-wielding Muslims had gone on the rampage.Troop reinforcements are now patrolling the city and the surrounding villages but locals said it was too late."They said they would come and protect us, but they didn't do anything for us," said Laraba.Major-General Salih Maina, in charge of military operations in the region came to his own defence, saying he had commanded troops which went to crush an uprising in Maiduguri last year where 700, mainly Muslims, were killed. …