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30 Die in Ethnic Clash in Nigeria

July 18, 1999

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ Ethnic clashes in the southwestern town of Sagamu left at least 30 people dead Sunday and dozens of homes, shops and a mosque destroyed. At least 50 people were injured, authorities said.

Segun Osoba, the governor of Ogun state, announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew Sunday afternoon after visiting the scene of the fighting, accompanied by a large detachment of riot police.

The violence began Sunday just after midnight during a masquerade festival held by the city’s Yorubas, the mostly Christian tribe that dominates Nigeria’s southwest. During the festival, known as an Oro, Yoruba custom forbids anyone else to see the people dressed in costumes.

But the festival turned violent when the masqueraders came across two prostitutes _ both of them Hausas from the Muslim north of Nigeria _ and attacked them, police said.

One of the women was killed, but the other ran back to a Hausa neighborhood, setting off rampaging fighting by both groups, local officials said on condition of anonymity.

Some unconfirmed media reports said as many as 45 people may have been killed in the fighting.

No further information was available from Sagamu, which is about 40 miles northeast of Lagos.

Nigeria, a patchwork of ethnic groups and religions, has long been riven by ethnic violence.

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