Communal unrest turns deadly in Nigeria

Latest incidents in Kaduna and Borno states raise fears of more religious violence in run-up to presidential poll.

    Eight people have been killed in religious violence in Nigeria, including a Christian family of seven, while a roadside bomb has killed seven others in an area known for Boko Haram activity.

    The two incidents on Friday followed a deadly attack on a Catholic church last weekend, which killed more than 60 people and raised fresh questions about the government's strategy to end the bloodshed and revamp the military.

    Boko Haram is an armed group fighting against Western influence in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, where it wants to set up an Islamic state .

    In the first attack, unknown assailants in cars and on motorbikes burst into the family's house in Unguwar Kajit, a village in the mainly Christian part of Kaduna state, and opened fire, locals said.

    "Christian youth provoked by the attack, which they blamed on Fulani Muslims, mobilised and launched reprisal attacks, burning mosques and houses," Emmanuel Zadiok, a youth leader, said.

    Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, Kaduna governor, has ordered an investigation.

    He condemned the attack and "prayed that God should expose the perpetrators", Ahmed Maiyaki, Yero's spokesman, said.

    In the second incident, seven people were killed and three others seriously injured when their bus ran over a home-made bomb near Kuthra village in the Gwoza area of Borno state, police said.

    Deadly attacks

    Boko Haram has ratcheted up deadly attacks in the border area with Cameroon in recent months and Lawan Tanko, Borno state police commissioner, blamed the group for planting the device.

    Earlier this month a car bomb targeted a busy market, killing 19 in Gwoza, located about 150km from the Borno's capital Maiduguri, Boko Haram's spiritual home.

    Boko Haram also attacked military installations in December last year, forcing a city-wide shut-down and raising questions about Nigeria's counterinsurgency strategy.

    A state of emergency imposed on Borno and two neighbouring northeast states in May last year has pushed Boko Haram fighters into more remote, rural areas but attacks have continued. Last Sunday, at least 60 people were killed.

    Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, who was the first journalist to travel to the village of Waga Chakawa in the northern Nigerian state of Adawama, where the attack on the Catholic church took place last Sunday, reported that the church was completely destroyed.

    Adamawa is home to Nigeria's new chief of defence staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, who has pledged to defeat Boko Haram by the end of April.

    Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights organisation, has estimated that more than 500 people were killed, most of the them Muslims, in southern Kaduna, which is predominantly Christian.

    Nigeria is almost evenly split between the Muslim majority north and largely Christian south.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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