Detaljer om grusomhetene i tre kristne landsbyer nær Jos i det sentrale Nigeria blir bare verre og verre. Småbarn er hakket til døde, og gamle og kvinner er fanget i fiskenett og jaktfeller. 500 drepte er et lavt anslag, mener politiet.

Residents of three predominantly Christian settlements near Jos said Muslim herders from surrounding hills had launched what appeared to be reprisal attacks following sectarian clashes which killed hundreds in January. Some witnesses told the BBC that villagers were caught in fishing nets and animal traps as they tried to flee and were then hacked to death. Mud huts were also set on fire.

Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation, a Christian aid group, told the BBC: «We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run, these were the ones that were slaughtered.

«The Zot village was completely wiped out: almost all the people there, except those who were able to escape by running to another place. But almost everyone who was found there was killed.» Lipdo said he could confirm 93 deaths in Dogo Nahawa village alone, adding: «These are the ones we know, but there are corpses charred beyond recognition.»

He said the youngest was just three months old. Residents there also said the dead included a four-day-old baby.

Gregory Yenlong, state commissioner for information in Plateau state, said: «Soldiers are patrolling and everywhere remains calm … we are estimating 500 people killed but I think it should be a little bit above that.»

Men wielding machetes leave up to 500 dead near Jos as Nigerian leader calls meeting with security chiefs