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Curfew in north Liberia after religious clashes

MYT 8:45:27 PM

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's government has imposed a curfew in the northern county of Lofa after religious clashes killed four there on Friday.

The fighting near the Guinean border was the third outbreak of violence between Muslim and Christian communities in West Africa this year.

"The Liberia National Police, the Emergency Response Unit and United Nations Military Mission in Liberia have since been deployed in the affected areas, and a dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed," the government said in a statement.

The violence erupted in the town of Vionjama after the body of a child "with body parts extracted" was found near a mosque, the statement said.

The statement said the ensuing clashes had led to some deaths, but did not specify how many.

A doctor at the Talawayon hospital in Vionjama said four people had died of bullet wounds and that another 18 people were being treated for injuries.

Witnesses told Reuters on Friday that rioters had burnt down the Catholic, Baptist and Episcopal churches in the area.

Earlier in February at least three people were killed in clashes between Christians and Muslims in southeastern Guinea. In January, more than 400 people died in religious violence in the Nigerian town of Jos.

Human rights observers say violence that is triggered by religious incidents in the first instance often becomes politicised, and can involve disputes over land or property.

(Reporting by Alphonso Toweh; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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