Nigeria chaos grows, 16 killed in attacks
11 January 2012, 09:58
Kano - Ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria
claimed 16 more victims on Tuesday, with gunmen killing eight in the
north and a mob torching an Islamic school in the south, as a fuel
strike added to the deadly tension.
Amid the sectarian and social
turmoil, Nobel literature prize laureate Wole Soyinka, one of the
country's most respected voices, warned that the continent's most
populous nation was heading toward civil war.
A two-day old
general strike has paralysed the country and sent President Goodluck
Jonathan's government - already battling a spate of bloody attacks by
the Islamist sect Boko Haram - into crisis mode.
the tension in Africa's top oil producer contributed to rising world oil
prices, with Brent North Sea crude gaining 83c to $113.28 a barrel on
In the latest attack blamed on Boko Haram, gunmen killed
eight people, including five police officers, in a pub in Potiskum town
in the northern state of Yobe before speeding off on a motorcycle.
doctor said eight bodies were brought to the local morgue, including
"five policemen, a bartender, a customer and a 10-year-old girl".
Police confirmed the shooting but did not give a casualty toll.
also killed three people in an attack on a Christian village in
northern Nigerian Bauchi state, police and community leaders said.
in the country's south, a mob burnt part of the central mosque complex
in the city of Benin, where earlier clashes killed five, following six
deaths there the previous day.
Fears of a wider religious conflict
Witnesses said an Islamic school adjacent to the mosque was torched and a bus parked next to it also went up in flames.
unrest in the city started on Monday amid protests against the
government's January 01 scrapping of fuel subsidies, which caused petrol
prices to more than double, sparking widespread anger.
Most of Nigeria's 160 million people live on less than $2 a day.
the rally in Benin, a crowd split off to attack a mosque and terrorise
people in neighbourhoods that are mainly Hausa, an ethnic group that
dominates the north and is overwhelmingly Muslim.
Nigeria is roughly divided between a predominantly Christian south and mainly Muslim north.
violence targeting Christians - including a series of Christmas Day
bombings - has sparked warnings from Christian leaders that they will
defend themselves and stoked fears of a wider religious conflict.
who became Africa's first Nobel prize for literature winner in 1986,
warned in a BBC interview that the country could face a new conflict
akin to its 1960s war, which killed more than one million people.
not an unrealistic comparison - it's certainly based on many
similarities... We see the nation heading towards a civil war," he said.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon met Nigeria's Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru
in New York as the UN expressed fears about militant groups in West
Boko Haram and al-Qaeda
The two met just
after the release of a UN report that hinted at links between Boko Haram
and al-Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa.
President Jonathan on
Sunday warned that the violence blamed on Boko Haram was worse than the
1967-70 civil war, saying also that there were sect sympathisers in the
government and within the security agencies.
The president on
Tuesday met his security chiefs in the capital Abuja as he faced the
toughest challenge since taking the post in 2010, battling on two fronts
- against the social protests and Boko Haram.
Across Nigeria, unrest prevailed and thousands protested over fuel prices, police fired tear gas and businesses shut down.
set up roadblocks of burning tyres on major roads in the economic
capital Lagos and threw stones at cars while extorting cash from
Protesters marched through the streets to the sound of
blaring afrobeat music, sometimes with soldiers clapping and taking
One person brought a goat wrapped in a union flag while
others carried a mock coffin labelled "Badluck", a play on the
A 24-hour curfew was imposed in the northern
city of Kaduna for fear protests would degenerate after thousands of
fuel protesters tried for two successive days to force their way into a
Lack of real trust
Residents said police fired teargas to disperse thousands of young men who besieged the complex for a second day running.
government says it scrapped the fuel subsidies because they cost more
than $8bn in 2011 and that it needs the money to improve the country's
woefully inadequate infrastructure.
Nigerians have viewed the
fuel subsidies as their only benefit from the nation's vast oil wealth,
and many people lack any real trust in the government after years of
deeply rooted corruption.
The Nigerian government late on Tuesday
ordered all striking workers back to work, warning that their employers
would enforce a "no work, no pay policy" if they failed to do so.