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Nigerian State Orders Probe Into Teacher's Killing


The governor of Nigeria's northeastern state of Gombe has ordered an investigation into the killing Wednesday of a teacher by Muslim students at a secondary school in the state. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports that the killing underlines long-standing Muslim-Christian tension in parts of northern Nigeria.

At least 15,000 people have died in religious and political violence in Nigeria since 1999, when Africa's most populous country returned to civil democracy, after three decades of military rule.

Police and witnesses say Oluwatoyin Olusase, a Christian, was supervising an Islamic Religious Knowledge exam at the school in Gombe, when she was killed.

An angry mob of Muslim students attacked her for allegedly desecrating the Koran. Her car and part of the school building were also reportedly set ablaze.

The police have arrested at least 12 people in connection with the killing.

A government spokesman, Mohammed Ahmed, says the authorities acted swiftly following the killing to avert further violence.

"The state governor directed the commissioner of education to close down all schools within Gombe metropolis," said Ahmed. "All secondary schools were closed down, at least to make sure the situation did not escalate. Security men were drafted to the school premises and the situation was contained within no time."

The five-man panel investigating the incident has been given up to two weeks to submit its findings. Ahmed is hopeful the report would assist the authorities in averting religion-inspired violence in the future.

"It is part of their terms of reference, to advise the government on the best way to avert future occurrence of crisis such as this," he said. "It is up to members of the committee to decide. The government has a lot of confidence in members of the committee."

Nigeria, a country split along Christian-Muslim lines, has a history of religious violence, and sectarian tensions are on the rise in the run-up to presidential elections next month.

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