Two blasts hit northeast Nigeria, shootout kills 1
05 January 2012, 17:25
Two bomb blasts shook the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on
Wednesday, and a gun battle in another town killed at least one
civilian, police said, the first uptick in violence since President
Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency on Saturday.
Heavily armed troops and tanks have been patrolling parts of
northeast Nigeria since Jonathan decreed a state of emergency there in
an effort to contain a growing Islamist insurgency led by shadowy group
The group claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks
across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church that killed
at least 37 people and wounded 57.
The blasts raised fears that Boko Haram, a movement styled on the
Taliban whose name means "Western education is forbidden", is trying to
ignite sectarian strife in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and
top oil producer.
The state of emergency covers the northeast, the conflict-prone
central city of Jos, and part of Niger state near Abuja. Borders with
Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the northeast have been shut.
A Reuters witness heard two blasts on Wednesday evening in
Maiduguri, heartland of the Boko Haram insurgency. A security source,
who could not be named, said two bombs had hit the perimeter fence of
the Nigeria customs facility near the Gamboru vegetable market, but
caused little damage and no injuries.
Earlier, a girl was killed in the crossfire of a gun battle
between security forces and suspected Boko Haram militants in the town
of Birnawa, in the northeastern state of Jigawa.
Jigawa state police commissioner Hashim Salihu Argungu told
Reuters: "Our men were able to confront them. Only one girl was killed
by stray bullet and one of our men was shot in the leg and he is
Local press published a statement purportedly from Boko Haram
this week warning the north's sizeable Christian minority to leave or be
killed, further heightening sectarian tensions in the country of 160
million split roughly evenly between Muslims and Christians.
That prompted the police on Wednesday to issue a statement "all
law abiding citizens to remain peaceful, calm and to go about their
lawful businesses without fear of intimidation."
"Nigeria is one united and indivisible entity where citizens are
at liberty to reside where they desire and practise whatever faith (they
wish)," Police Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim said.