Islamic militants in Nigeria gave Christians three days to leave the north following President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in four northern states.
Boko Haram, a Taliban-inspired group that has carried out a series of raids and bombings in the north and the capital, Abuja, also said Muslims should leave the south of Africa’s top oil producer.
The group urged “our fellow Muslims to come back to the north because we have evidence that they would be attacked,” Abu Qaqa, a spokesman for the group, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We are also giving three days ultimatum to the southerners living in northern Nigeria to move away.”
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin,” says it’s fighting to establish sharia law in the north. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country of more than 160 million people, is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
Qaqa said the state of emergency declared on Dec. 31 “was meant to attack Muslims and not to restore normalcy.”
Jonathan declared the emergency in parts of Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger states and set up a special counterterrorism unit within the armed forces after attacks left at least 43 people dead and 73 wounded in a Christmas day bombing of a church near Abuja.
At least 72 people have been killed in fighting since Dec. 22 between Nigerian security forces and the militant group in the northeastern city of Damaturu, according to the government.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack on the United Nations building in the capital on Aug. 26 that killed 25 people.
To contact the reporters on this story: Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi at firstname.lastname@example.org; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at email@example.com