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Nigerian Government Condemns Sunday’s Violence

  • VOA News

The Nigerian government has condemned the weekend violence in the northern part of the country.

Suspected Islamist militants killed more than 50 people Sunday in Kautikeri, Kwada, Karaggau and Ngurojina.

Community leaders say gunmen on motorcycles attacked churches. The villagers said after the attacks were reported and help was requested, the military response was slow.

Mike Omeri, a spokesman for the Nigerian government said Monday it is true the military may have been "a little late," but troops were on the scene and they did manage to shoot some of the attackers attempting to flee the area.

The villages that suffered the attack are about 10 kilometers outside Chibok in Borno state.

The church attacks were in the same area of Nigeria where in April Islamic militants kidnapped 270 schoolgirls, most of whom remain missing.

The violence overshadowed festivities surrounding Nigeria’s last-16 World Cup match against France, which is Nigeria's first appearance in the tournament’s knock-out rounds since 1998.

Authorities in Nigeria's northeastern state of Adamawa ordered all venues planning to screen live coverage of the football World Cup to close, according to a BBC report.

Open-air viewing centers, where people pay to watch live football, are popular throughout Nigeria. But they have come under attack in recent months.

Earlier this month, a viewing center in Bauchi, a northern state bordering Yobe, was struck by a bomb as fans watched the Brazil-Mexico World Cup match on June 17.

At the end of May, 40 people were killed watching a football match at a viewing center in Adamawa state. In Plateau state, security forces stopped an attempted attack on a viewing center in mid-May, but three people were still killed, including the bomber.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but Boko Haram is widely suspected.

The relentless Boko Haram violence has muted gatherings, even in Lagos, the commercial capital, nearly 2,000 kilometers from the scene of Sunday’s deadly violence.

“This is the southwest. ...We are free [of Boko Haram violence] here,” Binuyo Lewis, 35, manager of a bookmakers in Lagos, told the French news agency AFP. But, he said, “we are worried about our brothers in the northeast.”

The violence Sunday is the latest in a series of attacks in northeastern Nigeria that has continued, despite the government declaring a state of emergency and sending extra troops to the region.

Terrorists from the so-called Boko Haram group have killed thousands of people during their five-year insurgency to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria's northeast, with attacks on schools, churches, mosques, bus stations and other public places.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that "horrific attacks" by Boko Haram are becoming "an almost daily occurrence" in northeastern Nigeria. In a statement Monday, he condemned the continuing violence and conveyed his solidarity and sympathy to the people of Nigeria.

Heather Murdock contributed to this report from Abuja. Some information for this report provided by AFP.