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Nigeria: Religious Riots Leave Hundreds Dead

street scene on fire.

PHOTO: SEAMUS MURPHY.

In recent days, Nigeria has been engulfed by sectarian violence, where clashes between Muslims and Christians have left hundreds dead and thousands more fleeing their homes.

The trouble started last Friday, when the predominantly Christian governing party was announced the winner of state elections in the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

Claims by the Muslim-backed opposition party that the results were rigged set off a wave of violence, with marauding gangs attacking homes and burning mosques and churches.

It's not the first time this fertile central region, known as Nigeria's Middle Belt, has been witness to devastating religious conflict. In recent years, thousands have died in clashes as the area has attracted Muslims from traditional strongholds in the north and Christians concentrated mainly in the south, pushed closer together as they compete for diminishing resources in Africa's most populous country. Nigeria's population of 140 million is split almost evenly between Christianity and Islam.

It's not the first time this fertile central region, known as Nigeria's Middle Belt, has been witness to devastating religious conflict.

To shed light on this tenuous coexistence and the violence it often ignites, we recommend this Atlantic cover story by Eliza Griswold, who traveled to the region last year with photographer Seamus Murphy.

You can also watch a narrated slideshow of the remarkable images Murphy returned with in our photojournalism series, FlashPoint.