Mexico women march for justice Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 12:12 GMT

The women wore black and held candles More than 1,000 women marched through Mexico City on Monday evening to demand that those responsible for killing hundreds of women in the border town of Ciudad Juarez be brought to justice.

More than 300 young girls and women have been killed in the town since 1993.

The "Women in Black" procession was held to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The marchers, dressed in black and holding candles, were joined by families and friends of the victims as well as politicians and celebrities.

The march aimed to symbolise the lost souls of the victims, wandering in search of justice and leaving a trail of blood behind them.

Killings continue

The case of the murdered women of Ciudad Juarez has caused widespread outrage.

Despite several federal and state investigations, the authorities have been unable to identify the killers or establish a motive behind the murders.

Dozens of suspects have been arrested over the years, but the deaths still continue.

Drug-related killings and sex slavery are among the lines of investigation being pursued.

Only last Thursday, more remains were found in the northern border town. The Mexican police are investigating whether they are the bodies of two women recently reported missing.

The remains were found in the backyard of a house allegedly used as the site of satanic rituals.

'Outrageous violence'

The Juarez killings have also come to the attention of Mexico's First Lady Martha Sahagun de Fox.

Speaking at Monday's unveiling of the new federal "Life Without Violence" programme at the Mexico City offices of the Interior Ministry, she called the killings the country's most outrageous example of violence against women.

She said investigators should do more to catch those responsible for the violence in the town, just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

But Rosario Robles, head of the opposition Democratic Revolution Party, blamed President Fox's government for not doing more to stem the killings.

The investigation required "real political will from the federal government in order to truly solve these killings," Mr Robles said.

Nigerian Government rejects 'fatwa' Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 17:36 GMT

Hundreds of people have been arrested in Kaduna Nigeria's Government will not allow a death sentence to be carried out on the woman who wrote an article which Muslims complained insulted the Prophet Mohammed, sparking religious riots last week.

The northern Nigerian state of Zamfara endorsed an Islamic judgement calling on Muslims to kill the fashion writer Isioma Daniel after she wrote in the ThisDay newspaper that the Prophet Mohammed may have approved of the Miss World contest and possibly wished to marry one of the beauty queens.

But Information Minister Jerry Gana said the judgement was "null and void" and promised it would not be enforced.

Following protests over her article, more than 200 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians in the northern city of Kaduna last week.

"The federal government under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will not allow such an order in any part of the federal republic, because the federal republic is governed by the rule of law," Mr Gana told AFP news agency.

"The constitution of the federal republic is the supreme law of the land and the laws do not provide for anyone who has done something like what ThisDay has done to be killed," he said.

The Miss World contest was moved to London after the riots.

Ms Daniel resigned from her job and is in hiding but is believed to be still in Nigeria.

ThisDay has retracted the article and printed several apologies.

'Irresponsible journalism'

After the article was published, Muslim leaders in Kaduna urged their followers to demonstrate and text messages were sent on mobile phones.

Zamfara's deputy governor Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi told religious leaders in the state capital, Gusau: "Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed."

The speech was rebroadcast on local radio in Zamfara state, which was the first state in Nigeria to introduce Islamic law.

"It is binding on all Muslims wherever they are, to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty".

A "fatwa" was pronounced on Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie in 1989 by the then Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, for alleged blasphemy in his novel, the Satanic Verses.

A fatwa is a legal statement issued by an Islamic religious leader.

A senior official from Nigeria's highest Muslim body said that he was still studying the Zamfara statement.

Lateef Adegbite, secretary general of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, hinted that he disagreed with the decree, because the journalist was not a Muslim and the newspaper had retracted the article and published apologies, according to the French news agency, AFP.

But a Zamfara state spokesman said that any leader could issue a fatwa.

State Commissioner for Information Umar Dangaladima Magaji told Reuters news agency that the decree had been in response to pressure from Islamic associations in Zamfara.

He said it could defuse anger that might otherwise lead to further bloodshed.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has blamed "irresponsible journalism" for the bloodshed.

Sharia courts

Calm has now returned to Kaduna and mass funerals have begun for more than 200 people known to have died in the four days of rioting.

Court cases against the alleged killers have started.

The Red Cross said 215 bodies had been counted on Kaduna's streets and in mortuaries and correspondents say the death toll could rise yet further. Muslim defendants are being tried by the Islamic or Sharia courts in Kaduna State, while Christians are appearing before civilian jurisdictions.

It is estimated that more than 1,000 people were injured and more than 11,000 made homeless in the clashes.

Civil rights activists said more than 20 churches and eight mosques were burnt down in the city as well as a number of hotels.

Two years ago, Kaduna saw more than 2,000 deaths in clashes between Christians and Muslims, sparked by the introduction of Sharia law.