Christians vow to resist violence
A radical Muslim sect attacked a church worship service in Nigeria's north-east during assaults that killed at least 15 people, authorities said, as Christians vowed to defend themselves from the group's widening sectarian fight against the country's government.
The attacks by the sect known as Boko Haram came after it promised to kill Christians living in Nigeria's largely Muslim north, exploiting long-standing religious and ethnic tensions in the nation of more than 160 million people. The pledge by the leader of an umbrella organisation called the Christian Association of Nigeria now raises the possibility of retaliatory violence.
In the last few days alone, Boko Haram has killed at least 44 people, despite the oil-rich nation's president declaring a state of emergency in regions hit by the sect.
Speaking to journalists, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, vowed the group's members would adequately protect themselves from the sect. He declined to offer specifics, raising concerns about retaliation.
"We have decided to work out means to defend ourselves against these senseless killings," Mr Oritsejafor said, later adding: "We cannot sit back and watch people being slaughtered like animals every day, going to the church, shooting people, killing them. This is unacceptable."
In Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, gunmen covered their faces with black cloth when they attacked Apostolic Church on Friday night, local police commissioner Ade Shinaba said. Mr Shinaba said at least eight worshippers died in that attack.
At a nearby beauty salon, at least three others were killed in a similar attack.
"Three gunmen with their faces covered with black cloth burst into my salon and started shooting at customers, chanting, 'God is great, God is great,'" said Stephen Tizhe, 35.
Responding to the violence, Adamawa state Governor Murtala Nyako ordered a 24-hour curfew throughout the rural state. The violence comes ahead of a planned gubernatorial election later this month.
In the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, gunmen set two banks ablaze with petrol bombs, starting a gunfight with police that lasted three hours on Friday, local police commissioner Tanko Lawan said. At least two people were killed in the fight, he said. And on Saturday, sect gunmen also shot and killed two Christian students who attend the University of Maiduguri in nearby Borno state, local police commissioner Simeon Midenda said.