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Indian police arrest 1 man in killing of Nigerian

November 7, 2013

PANAJI, India (AP) — Police have arrested one of 10 suspects in the killing of a 24-year-old Nigerian man at a beachside village in western India, a crime that sparked riots by Nigerians in the area and a discriminatory backlash by locals, authorities said Thursday.

Police have yet to determine a motive in the Oct. 31 stabbing death of Obado Simeon in a village in Goa 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the capital of Panjim, police official Ratnakar Kalangutkar said.

Goa’s highest elected official, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, said the crime resulted from a feud between gangs of drug dealers, and ordered police to identify and deport all Nigerians who were living in the state illegally.

The 24-year-old suspect arrested Wednesday night has given little information under questioning, and police were searching for nine other suspects, Kalangutkar said.

An investigating police official said the suspect was part of a group of drug dealers, and that the nine other suspects are believed to be hiding in neighboring Indian states. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

Many of Goa’s 200 or so Nigerian residents rioted for days after the killing, blockading a road, setting fire to cars and beating up police officers in a suburb of Panaji. Police have arrested 52 Nigerians on charges including rioting and damaging public property.

One Nigerian was later brutally assaulted by locals after leaving a protest. Signs have appeared in the city reading “Say no to Nigerians. Say no to drugs.” One legislator described Nigerians as “wild animals” pumped with drugs. The state’s culture minister, Dayanand Mandrekar, on Thursday apologized for earlier calling them a “cancer.”

Two village councils passed resolutions to ban renting homes to Nigerian students. One 24-year-old Nigerian woman said she was asked to leave her home in the beach town of Anjuna, after local police demanded the landlord evict her.

“We are all God’s children. Why are we being treated like pagan?” Chioma Ghonsali said.

Nigeria has expressed outrage at the racism and asked India for a full investigation into the killing and aftermath. The two countries are in diplomatic talks, according to India’s foreign ministry.

Nigerian officials have threatened to evict the 1 million Indians living in the African country unless “the selective discrimination and targeting of Nigerians in Goa did not stop,” according to diplomat Jacob Nwadadia, who visited anxious members of Goa’s Nigerian community this week.

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