Riots 'kill hundreds in Nigeria' BBC News Online Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in central Nigeria after Christians and Muslims clashed over the result of a local election. A Muslim charity in the town of Jos says it collected more than 300 bodies, and fatalities are also expected from other ethnic groups, mainly Christians. There is no official confirmation yet, and figures are notoriously unreliable in Nigeria, says the BBC's Alex Last. Police have imposed a 24-hour curfew and the army is patrolling the streets. They have been given orders to shoot on sight in an effort to quell the bloodshed, some of the most serious in Nigeria in recent years. The Nigerian Red Cross says at least 10,000 people have fled their homes. Contested election The mostly Christian-backed governing party, the People's Democratic Party, was declared to have won the state elections in Plateau, of which Jos is the capital city. The result was contested by the opposition All Nigeria People's Party, which has support from Muslims. Violence started on Thursday night as groups of angry youths burnt tyres on the roads over reports of election rigging. It expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with mobs burning homes, churches and mosques on Friday and Saturday. Bodies from the Muslim Hausa community were brought into the central mosque compound from the streets where they had been killed. The local imam says their number is "in the hundreds". Any Christian casualties would have been taken to the hospital morgues, but no clear figure has emerged for the number of their fatalities. Despite the overnight curfew, groups in some areas took to the streets again, as soon as patrols had passed by. Troubled past In 2001, more than 1,000 people died in religious clashes in the city, situated in Nigeria's fertile "middle belt" that separates the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south. And in 2004, a state of emergency was declared in Plateau State after more than 200 Muslims were killed in the town of Yelwa in attacks by Christian militia. Correspondents say communal violence in Nigeria is complex, but it often boils down to competition for resources such as land between those that see themselves as indigenous versus the more recent settlers. In Plateau, Christians are regarded as being indigenous and Hausa-speaking Muslims the settlers. The unrest is the most serious of its kind in Africa's most populous nation, roughly equally split between Christians and Muslims, since President Umaru Yar'Adua took power in May 2007.