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Journalist almost killed by mourners; other journalists threatened by soldiers

A Nigerian radio journalist covering the mass funeral of victims of a 7 March massacre in villages in central Nigeria was brutally assaulted by mourners, report the Nigeria-based Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Journalists have also been harassed and intimidated by soldiers in the region, reports the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The murder of hundreds of Christians appears to be in reprisal for attacks on Muslim communities that occurred in January, says Human Rights Watch. Groups of men armed with guns, machetes and knives murdered residents in villages south of Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The conflict between Yoruba and Igbo Christians and Hausa-Fulani Muslims is focused on land, resources and political posts, say local journalists.

On 8 March, after a public official at the funeral told mourners that radio journalist Murtala Sani was Hausa-Fulani, a crowd attacked him. A "Wall Street Journal" reporter who covered the funeral said: "He was inches from losing his life. They wanted to kill him and throw his body in the mass grave with the others." Police fired into the air to disperse the crowd and then took Sani to a hospital. Another journalist, Aminu Abdulla, a reporter with Agence France-Presse (AFP), was accosted; but he escaped with the help of other journalists.

In other attacks on the press in the area, three broadcast reporters were threatened with death by soldiers in Jos, Plateau State, in January, says IFJ. The soldiers promised to "waste" them if they were seen on the road again.

Two sports journalists, South African sound engineer Nic Greyling and Nigerian commentator Bowie Attamah, were abducted at gunpoint on 1 March in Imo State, but later released, reports the World Association of News and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

More than 13,500 people have died in religious or ethnic clashes since the end of military rule in 1999, reports Human Rights Watch. There have been a series of deadly incidents in and around the Plateau State.

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