Monday, January 23, 2012

Nigeria: Praying for peace.

In Blast-Shaken Kano, Nigerians Pray for Peace
January 23, 2012 
VOA News

Photo: Reuters
Smoke rising from police headquarters in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, Jan. 20, 2012.==============================================
Nigerian political and religious leaders prayed for peace Monday in the northern city of Kano, following coordinated blasts that killed an estimated 170 people.

The Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, prayed softly in a local mosque where he was joined by Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. But the mosque was half empty, with many Nigerians apparently too fearful to attend.

The radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for Friday's bombings in the city of more than nine million people.

On Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan met with the Emir of Kano and vowed to hold the attackers accountable.

Jonathan has been criticized for failing to halt attacks by the militant group, which has mainly targeted government and security sites across the north.

A purported spokesman for Boko Haram said Friday's bombings were in response to the arrest of several sect members in Kano.

Soldiers continued to patrol the northern city on Monday and reassure residents of their safety, but tension remained high.

Kano resident Aminu Garba said people fled for cover when the tire on a passing vehicle blew out, fearing a bomb had exploded.

"We are not safe at all," he said.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to implement strict Sharia law in the country. However, analysts say it is a loosely knit group made up of various factions, including some that are politically motivated.

Nigeria, a country of about 150 million people, is divided between the mostly Muslim north and the largely Christian south.

The ongoing violence has raised concerns that Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and biggest oil producer, is sliding toward civil war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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