News / Africa

Nigerian President Replaces Police Chief After Attacks

A child stands on a burnt out police truck following an overnight attack at Sheka police station in Kano, Nigeria, January 25, 2012.
A child stands on a burnt out police truck following an overnight attack at Sheka police station in Kano, Nigeria, January 25, 2012.

Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been under pressure to rein in escalating violence by a radical Islamic sect, has replaced the country's police chief.

Jonathan's office announced Wednesday that Inspector-General Hariz Ringim has been placed on "terminal leave" until his retirement in coming months.  The president also approved the retirement of all Ringim's deputies.

He named Assistant Inspector-General Mohammed Abubakar as the country's new police chief.

The president's office called the move "a first step" toward revamping the entire police force and making it better able to deal with "emerging internal security challenges."

Jonathan has been criticized for failing to stop a rising number of attacks largely blamed on the militant group Boko Haram.

The group claimed responsibility for multiple bombings in the northern city of Kano on Friday that killed at least 185 people.

Late Tuesday, gunmen attacked a Kano police station.  Witnesses say the attackers hurled homemade bombs into the police station and sprayed it with gunfire, some shouting "God is great."

Video footage from the scene of the attack




According to witnesses there were no police at the site on Wednesday as a crowd of mostly youths cheered outside the police station and jumped atop burned police vehicles.  Inside the blood-splattered building, jail cell doors were wide open.

There have been no reports of casualties nor claims of responsibility.

This week, Human Rights Watch said Boko Haram has killed at least 935 people since 2009, using violence and terrorism to try to turn northern Nigeria into a conservative Islamic state.

Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in parts of the north, where Boko Haram has carried out most of its attacks.

Africa's most populous country is divided between the mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south.  The country has endured spates of sectarian violence over the years, though some of the conflict stems from economic and political factors as well.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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