Calm returns to Nigeria's Jos
State of emergency remains in areas hit by deadly attacks blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2012 10:54

Tough security measures continue in Nigeria following a state of emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan in some northern and central parts of the country that have been hit hard by violence blamed on the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from the city of Jos in central Nigeria on Tuesday, said the streets there were getting calmer.

"For now the state of emergency remains, he said. "The violence has stopped and people hope that they begin living a normal life." 

Weary after years of conflict, residents said they would suffer the inconvenience of a tougher security if that brings lasting peace.

"If the state of emergency will bring peace to Plateau state, we welcome the state of emergency, because we are hoping for everlasting peace," Patience Ibrahim said.

On Saturday, Jonathan said he would shut any international borders in areas covered by the decree.

"The temporary closure of our borders in the affected areas is only an interim measure designed to address the current security challenges and will be resumed as soon as normalcy is restored," he said.

Jonathan said the move was necessary "as terrorists have taken advantage of the present situation to strike at targets in Nigeria and retreat beyond the reach of our law enforcement personnel".

Jonathan's speech came in response to a series of deadly bombings claimed by Boko Haram, which took place across the country on Christmas Day.

'Crush the terrorists'

The blasts, including three aimed at churches, killed 42 people and wounded 57 others.

The president vowed to "crush the terrorists" while he visited the site of the deadliest attack, St Theresa's Catholic church in Madalla, on the edge of the capital, Abuja.

"We assure Nigerians that we will protect them," he said to relatives while at the church. "We will crush the terrorists. If there are institutions ... which are harbouring terrorists, we will deal with them."

A further three seemingly counter-attacks took place on Friday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri shortly after Muslim Friday prayers.

Inside Story explores the background of Nigeria's violence

Maiduguri lies at the centre of a violent anti-government campaign by Boko Haram, which has been blamed for waves of other bombings and shootings.

The bombings have raised fears that Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", and whose movement is styled on the Taliban, is trying to ignite sectarian strife in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.

Ayo Johnson, the director of Viewpoint Africa media, told Al Jazeera that Boko Haram had evolved in the last few years into a serious threat to the Nigerian government.

"I think Boko Haram has taken advantage of opportunities that they have seen. There was always conflict between the Muslim north and Christian south," he said.

"They have an agenda clearly to transform the Nigerian state into an Islamic one. And of course over the last few years, especially since 2009 ... they've taken draconian, aggressive moves against the government."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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