Burning mosques and killing several people in an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence that followed deadly protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad over the weekend, that is what the Christian mobs did through a southern Nigerian city Tuesday.
Predominantly Christian city of Onitsha said several Muslims with origins in the north were beaten to death by mobs which also burned two mosques there, residents and witnesses in the southern, said.
Izzy Uzor, an Onitsha resident and businessman, told The Associated Press by telephone that, "The mosque at the main market has been burnt and I've counted at least six dead bodies on the streets," and added "The whole town is in a frenzy and people are running in all directions."
Killing at least 18 people, the violence appeared to be in reprisal for anti-Christian violence Saturday in the mostly Muslim northern city of Maiduguri in which thousands of Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches.
One badly beaten Muslim man ran into his office from the streets to escape the violence, another Onitsha resident, Isotonu Achor, said. Achor also added "There is blood all over him and I'm scared they'll come for him here. If he doesn't get urgent treatment he will die,"
Thousands of people have died in religious violence in Nigeria since 2000, roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a mainly Christian south, Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of more than 130 million people.
The Christian Association of Nigeria said at least 50 people were killed in the violence, Saturday's protest over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in Maiduguri marked the first violent demonstrations over the issue in Nigeria. Police say at least 18 people, most of them Christians, died, and 30 churches were burned down.
One caricature shows Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with an ignited fuse, the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, have set off sometimes violent protests around the world.