Brigadier Hassan Umaru said Thursday that the violence started after a Muslim locksmith was found dead Tuesday after taking a job in a Christian neighborhood in the city of Jos.
He says a mob of youngsters from a Muslim neighborhood went to a Christian neighborhood to avenge his death, sparking a clash that left five others dead and 12 wounded.
The violence follows five months of relative calm in Jos and surrounding areas.
Human Rights Watch says at least 1,000 people were killed in Jos in 2010 and another 200 died at the turn of the year. Violence there cuts across religious lines, but has roots in political, economic and ethnic strife.
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