A rumour that a Christian man blasphemed against Islam has sparked a riot in the northern Nigeria town of Bichi, police have said.

Residents said four people were killed and shops were looted.

The riot came on the day the incoming head of the Anglican Church, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, launched an initiative to promote religious tolerance in Nigeria.

Religious clashes have claimed thousands of lives in Nigeria since military rule ended in 1999.

The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, has also been waging an insurgency since 2009 to impose strict Sharia across Nigeria, which is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a Christian and animist south.

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