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State of emergency declared in Nigeria

27 September 2013

by a staff reporter


Crushed: men walk in the rubble after a Boko Haram raid on Benisheik, in Nigeria, on Thursday of last week

Crushed: men walk in the rubble after a Boko Haram raid on Benisheik, in Nigeria, on Thursday of last week

A STATE of emergency has been declared in north-eastern Nigeria, where hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in attacks by Islamist fighters.

Gunmen from the Islamist group Boko Haram have carried out several attacks in recent weeks. More than 140 commuters were killed when gunmen stopped cars on a busy highway and lined up drivers and passengers, shooting them at the side of the road.

More people were killed, and hundreds of homes set alight, when gunmen stormed another town, in Borno State. Soldiers have also been targeted, with dozens dying in ambushes.

North-eastern Nigeria is the centre of Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia on the country.

The state of emergency was declared by the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, in May this year. Phone lines in the area were cut, with the aim of preventing Islamists from co-ordinating attacks, although critics say that this also prevents victims from raising the alarm.

The aid agency Hart visited Nigeria last week. It reported an escalation of violence against Christians and churches, and said that Muslims who did not support Boko Haram were also being targeted by the insurgents.

In Bauchi and Kano States, sharia is accepted above federal law, and Christians are prevented from rebuilding churches damaged in attacks, Hart reported.

The Bishop of Kano, the Rt Revd Zakka Nyam, told Hart: "The indigenes [Christians] have nowhere to flee. But Boko Haram is succeeding in its objective of driving all other Christians out of northern Nigeria."

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