The Nigerian police say two civilians were killed in the northern city of Kano yesterday after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked police stations, the Associated Press reports. Another police station attack was reported early this morning, but there were no known casualties.
Over the weekend, tribal leaders of the Christian Igbo sect urged ethnic Igbos in the mostly-Muslim north to flee, raising the specter of the 1960s civil war that left more than a million dead and many more homeless.
“We are calling for immediate return of Igbo wives and children so that their safety can be assured here in the East,” the tribal leaders said in a statement, according to the Daily Times Nigeria. “For the Igbo nation is once again facing an impending refugee crisis and our people are being forced to flee their homes and places of work and business to avoid death.”
Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group believed to be responsible for more than 935 deaths since they began operations in 2009 appears to be fighting to set up an independent Islamic state in the North. The group has repeatedly refused Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's calls for negotiations, demanding the release of imprisoned members.
"We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees," a Boko Haram spokesperson told The Guardian on Friday. "Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released, we will only put aside our arms — but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."
The Boko Haram spokesperson said the group gets financial and technical support from Al Qaeda and he threatened to bomb schools and universities, The Guardian reports.
Many parts of Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation with 160 million people and the continent's largest oil exporter — have been under a state of emergency since the beginning of the year, after dozens were killed in church bombings on Christmas Day. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for those attacks, along with the bombing of government buildings in Kano on January 20 that killed more than 185 people, including civilians, police officers and government workers.
As sectarian violence continues to terrorize the North — with both Muslim and Christian victims — Nigeria is also set to carry out its first official executions in 15 years, according to Agence France-Presse.
Army Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, a top security aid to the late dictator Sani Abacha, was sentenced to death by hanging today, for the murder of Kudiratu Abiola, the wife of late presidential contender Moshood Abiola. Abiola’s aide, Lateef Sofolahan, was also found guilty and received the same sentence, AFP reports.