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Rights Group Condemns Nigeria Violence, Demands Accountability

Policeman stand guard as suspected rioters await a court hearing in Kaduna, Nigeria, April 20, 2011

An official of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch [HRW] has condemned the ongoing violence in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north in the run-up to the gubernatorial election scheduled for Tuesday.

It’s also concerned about possible violence during and after the polls.

Eric Guttschuss, a researcher with the group, also called for the protection of election officials and prospective voters and for the government to hold perpetrators of past violence accountable.

“We call on the security forces to ensure that vulnerable communities are provided adequate security and that the security forces remain neutral in their response to these clashes,” said Guttschuss.

Police say casualty totals have risen to three dead and 14 wounded from Sunday's bomb blasts in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Authorities are blaming the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram. Police suggest militants are trying to intimidate voters before the polls open Tuesday. Its name means “Western education is sinful.”

Three bombs went off at a hotel and a motor park. Authorities say all the casualties resulted from the attack.

Guttschuss said, “Human Rights Watch is investigating cases of violence that have been perpetrated within northern Nigeria and within Nigeria that is known as the Middle-Belt, which divides the largely Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.”

“We are also investigating credible allegations that members of the security forces used excessive force in responding to the violence,” he continued.