Last Updated: Wed Dec 28, 2011 15:20 pm (KSA) 12:20 pm (GMT)

About 90,000 displaced in northeastern Nigerian city; bombs at Arabic school wound seven

Nigeria’s northeast has long been rocked by violence blamed on Boko Haram, but attacks are intensifying and growing more deadly. (Reuters)
Nigeria’s northeast has long been rocked by violence blamed on Boko Haram, but attacks are intensifying and growing more deadly. (Reuters)

Deadly clashes between Islamists and security forces last week have displaced an estimated 90,000 people in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu, an emergency official said Wednesday.

“We have at the moment an estimated 90,000 displaced people from the Damaturu violence,” said Ibrahim Farinloye, northeast coordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency.

“Around 40,000 of this figure is from the Pompomari area, where the whole neighborhood has been deserted. Some of the displaced have lost their homes, while others just fled for their security.”

Farinloye said “we advised the displaced against moving into any temporary camp for security reasons, therefore most of them are sheltering in the homes of friends and relatives in the city and neighboring villages.”

Heavy violence broke out in Damaturu last week, with suspected members of Islamist group Boko Haram carrying out attacks followed by a military crackdown. A rights group and police source said up to 100 people were feared dead.

Trucks and armored vehicles carrying soldiers had arrived in the Pompomari neighborhood and residents were given 30 minutes to leave. The neighborhood was later cordoned off.

Further violence broke out in Damaturu on Christmas, when two explosions went off, including a suicide attack targeting a military convoy in front of a secret police building.

Meanwhile, a bomb was thrown into an Arabic school in mainly Christian southern Nigeria, wounding at least seven, police said Wednesday, after Christmas attacks sparked fears of sectarian violence in the country.

“A locally made low-capacity explosive was thrown into an Arabic school in Sapele at 10:00 pm yesterday,” said state police spokesman Charles Mouka.

“It was thrown from an unidentified moving car ... Six children and one adult were wounded. They are receiving treatment in the hospital. No deaths were recorded and no arrests have been made.”

The children are between five and eight years old, he said. They had been at the school for night Arabic and Quranic lessons, said Mouka.

Christmas bombings occurred in several locations in Nigeria blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram that killed 40 people, with the deadliest an explosion outside a church near the capital Abuja as services were ending.

Nigerian leaders have been seeking to calm tensions amid fears the Christmas attacks could set off sectarian violence in a country roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Christian leaders have urged authorities to take action against spiralling violence blamed on Boko Haram, with deep frustration over their seeming inability to stop attacks despite heavy-handed military crackdowns.

A Christian leader in Nigeria's north has warned that “religious war” could result if the problem is not addressed, though he urged Christians not to retaliate.

Nigeria’s northeast has long been rocked by violence blamed on Boko Haram, but attacks are intensifying and growing more deadly. The bombs that targeted churches on Christmas have also sparked fears of renewed sectarian clashes.

Nigerian leaders have sought to calm tensions since the attacks, urging Christians not to retaliate.

The country, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer with 160 million people, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

Boko Haram was long based in the northeastern state of Borno, which neighbors Yobe, but it has carried out a series of attacks in Yobe in recent weeks.

In early November, coordinated attacks in Damaturu left an estimated 150 people dead. Violence has also hit the nearby city of Potiskum.

Nigerian authorities have been unable to stop the violence despite heavy-handed crackdowns and claims of arrests of Boko Haram members.

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