Nigeria: state of emergency declared after attacks


Nigeria has increased its security following a number of deadly attacks by Boko Haram, a group of Islamic extremists. Here a Nigerian soldier interrogates motorcyclists at a checkpoint in Kaduna State.


Pius Utomi Ekpei

A week after Islamist militants attacked churches in Nigeria, the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, declared a state of emergency in areas affected by the violence.

Jonathan declared a state of emergency Saturday in areas of the Yobe and Borno states in the northeast, Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the east, the BBC reported. Nigeria's borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the northeast were also shut.

"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 reportedly said.

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Jonathan also vowed to "crush" the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Christmas that killed dozens of civilians. The militants are also accused of being responsible for a string of other attacks across Nigeria this year.

The Christmas blasts, which killed at least 37 people at one church, and other attacks have renewed fears that Boko Haram is trying to ignite a civil war in Nigeria, Reuters reported.

Jonathan, who had been accused of responding to the Christmas attacks too slowly, also visited one of the sites of the blasts on Saturday.

"We will crush the terrorists. If there are institutions ... which are harboring terrorists, we will deal with them," he told victims' relatives at the Theresa's Catholic church in Madalla, which is on the outskirts of Abuja.

Boko Haram, which has been called the "Nigerian Taliban," also claimed an assault on Christians in Nigeria last year that killed at least 32 people. The group is accused of killing more than 250 people since July 2010.

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