US warns of new attacks in Nigeria
This photo shows a police station that was set on fire in Nov 4 attacks. AFP photoNigeria was on high alert Monday after the United States warned of fresh attacks following a wave of deadly blasts claimed by Islamists killed 150 people in the northeast of the country.
Attacks on Nov.5 in the city of Damaturu were among the deadliest ever carried out by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect based in the north of Africa’s most populous country. The US embassy in Nigeria warned the sect could next strike hotels and other targets in the capital Abuja during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. “Following the recent Boko Haram, aka Nigerian Taliban, attacks in Borno and Yobe State, the US embassy has received information that Boko Haram may plan to attack several locations and hotels in Abuja,” the embassy said in a statement.
Security was stepped up in Abuja, which has been a target of past attacks, including an August 26 suicide bomb at the UN headquarters which claimed 24 lives. The US embassy said potential targets could include the Nicon Luxury, the Sheraton and the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja’s premier hotels. Embassy staff had been told to avoid the venues.
Some 13,000 policemen and specialist anti-terror squads were deployed to mosques and churches and other strategic locations across the city on Nov.6, a police official said. Worshippers were screened by metal detectors before they entered some churches. In the grief-stricken city of Damaturu where the 150 died, thousands of Muslims gathered for Eid el-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifices prayers at an open ground patrolled by dozens of armed police.
Boko Haram’s name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language. It rejects Western ideals like Nigeria’s U.S.-styled democracy. Followers believe that democracy has destroyed the country with corrupt politicians. The sect wants the strict implementation of Shariah law across Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million split largely between a Christian south and Muslim north.