Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algeria's media: a mixture of censorship and free speech

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

Africa

Christians flee in wake of deadly sectarian attacks

©

Video by William EDWARDS

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-07

Hundreds of Christians are fleeing northern Nigeria after armed gunmen from Islamist group Boko Haram carried out attacks in four states against Christian churches and shops that left at least 37 people dead, witnesses said Saturday.

REUTERS - Hundreds of Christians have begun to flee northern Nigeria after dozens were killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants who issued an ultimatum to Christians to leave the mainly Muslim region or be killed, witnesses said on Saturday.

A Nigerian newspaper on Tuesday published a warning from Boko Haram, a movement styled on the Taliban, that Christians had three days to get out of northern Nigeria.

Since the expiry of that ultimatum, attacks in towns in four states in northeastern Nigeria have left at least 37 people dead and hundreds of Christians are fleeing to the south, according to residents and a Red Cross official.

Gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs have targeted church congregations and a group of mourners in a church hall.

Witnesses said some shops run by Christians from the Igbo ethnic group in towns hit by the violence, including Yola and Mubi, were closed on Saturday and residents started to pack their belongings onto buses heading to southern regions.

There are fears of reprisal attacks on Muslims. Christian groups have asked their followers to remain peaceful but they concede that there is a risk of further violence.

"We are very worried by the persistent killings. We have asked youths to remain calm. We stand for a united Nigeria but there is a limit to human tolerance," a spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria told Reuters.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast and two other regions in Nigeria on Dec. 31, in a bid to contain a growing insurgency by Boko Haram, which says it wants to apply Islamic sharia law across the country.

Heavily armed troops and tanks have been patrolling parts of northeast Nigeria since Jonathan made the announcement but it is a vast, remote region that has proven difficult to secure.

Wave of assaults

Gunmen opened fire in a hall in Mubi in Adamawa state on Friday where a group of Christians had gathered to mourn the deaths of those killed in an attack the previous day. The death toll in those attacks has reached 21, the Red Cross said on Saturday.

"Unknown gunmen in Mubi attacked and killed 3 people on Thursday night and on Friday as people gathered to mourn the deaths, the gunmen believed to be the same attackers killed 18 people, totalling 21," said Red Cross spokesman Umar Mairiga.

Adamawa state is just south of Borno state, the homeland of Boko Haram, which has been behind almost daily attacks in recent months.

Local residents in the Adamawa state capital Yola said gunmen had fired on Christians leaving church on Friday, killing eight people. The police confirmed the incident but were not able to give further comment or a death toll.

A spokesman for Boko Haram told reporters by phone that the sect was behind many of the attacks, including a shooting at a church service in northeast Gombe on Thursday, which killed at least six people.

"The Gombe attack on the Deeper Life Church and the attack on Igbos in Mubi and that of Yola were all carried out by us," Abu Qaqa said by telephone to reporters.

Elsewhere, a Christian couple were shot dead on Friday in the Mairi ward of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the nucleus of Boko Haram's violence since an uprising in 2009.

"A Christian husband and wife have been killed in the night (Friday) in Maiduguri," said Colonel Victor Ebhemele, operations officer in the Borno joint task force.

In Yobe state, which sits on borders with Borno state and neighbouring Niger, police said it killed some members of Boko Haram in a gun battle on Friday night.

The Red Cross official said members of the Igbo ethnic group, who are usually Christian and a minority in the mainly Muslim north were fleeing the northeast. Most of the people killed in Mubi were Igbo, local residents said.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church near the capital Abuja that killed at least 37 people and wounded 57.

Nigeria's population of around 160 million is split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. Most Christians live in the south and most Muslims in the north, but many communities are mixed, and the majority live side by side in peace.

The persistent violence adds to growing problems for Jonathan, who has been criticised for not getting a grip on Boko Haram's insurgency. Nationwide strikes are planned on Monday against the government's decision to end fuel subsidies from Jan. 1, which caused the pump price to double.
 

Date created : 2012-01-07

  • NIGERIA

    Islamist group Boko Haram claim church killings

    Read more

  • NIGERIA

    Gunmen open fire on Christian mourners

    Read more

  • NIGERIA

    State of emergency imposed over sectarian attacks

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)