(Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria after religious riots that killed at least 138 people across the country in five days. February 23, 2006. REUTERS/George Esiri )

Nigerian authorities have largely ignored sectarian clashes in the nation’s religiously mixed central region that have killed 3,000 people since 2010, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

Local police rejected the findings by the international watchdog, which said that a series of massacres and tit-for-tat sectarian attacks have gone largely unpunished as police overlooked witnesses or failed to collect evidence properly.

“Witnesses came forward to tell their stories, compiled lists of the dead, and identified the attackers, but in most cases nothing was done,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The authorities may have forgotten these killings, but communities haven’t. In the absence of justice, residents have resorted to violence to avenge their losses,” he said of a new 146-page report entitled ‘Leave Everything to God’.