The authorities in Nigeria's northern state of Jigawa have imposed a nighttime curfew in the wake of a violent protest by a group of Muslim youths in the state capital. The rioters attacked Christians following a blasphemous statement allegedly made by a local Christian woman about Prophet Muhammad.
Hundreds of heavily armed anti-riot policemen are patrolling the streets of Dutse, capital of the northern Nigerian state of Jigawa, to contain rioting by angry Muslim youths.
Police spokesman Haz Iwendi, who blamed those he referred to as miscreants for the attacks, said the police had taken steps to stop the violence.
"Yes, we had some violence there yesterday arising from a statement allegedly made by a Christian woman and a lot of miscreants took to the streets and burnt down churches and shops belonging to Christians and the IG [Inspector General of Police] has moved in and he has asked the AIG [Assistant Inspector General] of Abuja to proceed to Dutse and take over the place and he has also directed units of police mobile teams from Katsina and Kano, to go there and beef up security and restore normalcy," he said.
At least 10 churches, 20 shops as well as homes of Christians were reportedly attacked and set ablaze by the angry protestors, who claimed a local Christian woman had made a blasphemous statement about Prophet Muhammad. The woman was said to have reacted to inflammatory language denigrating Jesus Christ by a Muslim man.
Eyewitnesses say, at least six people are being treated at the local hospital, one of them is said to be seriously ill.
The state governor, Ibrahim Turaki, was attacked when he tried to calm the mob and had to be hurriedly taken away. Some of the governors bodyguards sustained severe injuries.
Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer is regularly plagued by violence.
A dozen northern states introduced Islamic sharia law in 2000, alienating Christian minorities in the predominantly Muslim north and stoking spates of inter-religious violence that killed thousands of people.
At least 15,000 people have been killed in communal, ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria since the return to civil democracy seven years ago.