“At least seven people have been killed in a fight which reportedly broke out after a Christian girl converted to Islam in north-west Nigeria.
The fight in Kaduna State also left at least 15 people with injuries after homes were torched. An eyewitness told BBC News Pidgin that trouble started after a Christian girl from Gwari converted to Islam because of her boyfriend.
The witness said this provoked some Christian youths in the area.
Other reports suggest tensions between the two faiths had been simmering for some time.
However, Kaduna State Police Command Muktar Aliyu told BBC Pidgin while they have arrested 10 people in connection with the incident, officers are still investigating the cause of the fight.
“We cannot confirm that the fight started because someone converted to Islam or whatever religion,” he said.
“People have a right to convert to any religion they want, it’s not supposed to start a fight.”
He said measures had been taken to stop it spreading from Kasuwan Magani, which is 36km from the state capital, to other areas.””
Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Iwar confirmed the arrests of the suspects to journalists on Tuesday.
“The 18 persons are undergoing interrogation and we are strengthening security presence in the area,” Mr Iwar said.
The Police commissioner was also on the team of Kaduna State Security Council visited the scene of the crisis on Tuesday.
Also on the team was the General Officer Commanding 1st Division of Nigerian Army , Major General Mohammed Mohammed , and the State Director of the Department of State Services, DSS, Mohammed Wakil, Commander Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, AM Bunu and Special Adviser to Kaduna State governor on Internal Security, Col. Yakubu Yusuf (rtd).
Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant, media and publicity to the governor of Kaduna State who was also on the team said in a statement that security chiefs assessed the damage, spoke to residents and received detailed briefings from their officers deployed to restore calm in the town.
“The GOC tasked religious and traditional leaders to deepen the message of peace and integration, and tasked community leaders and residents not to undermine and destroy the four decades of togetherness and peaceful coexistence in the area.
“He assured community leaders, that security agencies will continue to work for lasting peace, law and order in the area,” the government’s spokesperson said.
Aruwan added that government of Kaduna State welcomes the news of arrests of suspects in relation to the mayhem and will like to see speedy conclusion of investigations so that indicted persons can be prosecuted.
He, however, reiterated government’s appeal to citizens not to resort self-help but to report all complaints to the security agencies.”