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Africa

Parts of Nigeria under curfew as Islamist violence escalates

The Nigerian state of Adamawa has been placed under curfew as hundreds have fled their homes because of rising anti-Christian violence. The Islamist Boko Haram group is said to have killed up to 30 in the past two days.

Crowds gather at the site of the bomb blast at St Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla, near Abuja, Nigeria, 25 December 2011.

Christians have faced several attacks since Christmas Day when 49 people died

The government in Nigeria's northeastern state of Adamawa has imposed a 24-hour curfew after attacks against Christians left up to 30 people dead in the past few days.

Adamawa government secretary, Kobis Ari, referred to a "spate of attacks in some parts of the state" but did not immediately say whether the curfew would be extended beyond the weekend.

The attacks have been blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram group, which is believed to have killed 20 people in two separate attacks during the night from Friday into Saturday.

There have been attacks in Adamawa and the nearby state of Yobe, where hundreds fled their homes fearing military raids.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, second from left

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (second from left) has called a state of emergency

"We are afraid the soldiers will raid and burn our homes like they do in Maiduguri each time Boko Haram attack," said local resident Amiru Umar in Adamawa state.

The Red Cross says 21 people have been killed in the town of Mubi alone.

In the latest fighting, up to 18 people were killed at a church where Christians had gathered to mourn those who had died the previous day. And in the town of Potiskum, in Yobe state, a police officer and a civilian - believed to be Christian - were killed when gunmen raided three banks overnight.

State of emergency

President Goodluck Jonathan last week placed Yobe and its surrounding region under a state of emergency.

Boko Haram fighters have increasingly engaged in direct battle with police and have launched bomb attacks on local police headquarters.

But some soldiers in the city of Maiduguri have also been accused of burning homes and shooting residents after attacks by the militants. The soldiers accuse residents of complicity in the attacks.

Public warning

The violence has escalated since the Boko Harem published a warning in a newspaper this week, stating that Christians had three days to leave majority Muslim areas in northern Nigeria or face being killed.

Nigeria's north is largely populated by Muslims, while the south has a majority Christian population.

Boko Harem is said to be styled on the Taliban movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan and responsible for a suicide bombing at United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August, which killed 25 people.

On Christmas Day, a series of bombings killed 49 people - most were outside a Catholic church.

The rising number of deaths has increased concerns that Christians may start reprisal attacks, sparking an all-out sectarian conflict.

Author: Zulrfikar Abbany (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight

DW.DE

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