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Nigeria Declares State of Emergency in North After Attacks

Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in parts of four northern states following a series of attacks by Islamic militants in the northeast and Abuja, the capital of Africa’s top oil producer.

Emergency rule was declared in parts of the northeastern Borno and Yobe states as well as the central Plateau and Niger states, the Abuja-based presidency said today in an e-mailed statement.

“The Chief of Defense Staff, in collaboration with other Service Chiefs, has also been directed to set up a special force unit within the Armed Forces, with dedicated counterterrorism responsibilities,” Jonathan said in the statement.

International borders near the affected states will closed “to control incidences of cross-border terrorist activities as terrorists have taken advantage of the present situation to strike at targets in Nigeria and retreat beyond the reach of our law-enforcement personnel,” Jonathan said.

At least 43 people were killed and 73 wounded in a Christmas Day bombing of a church near Abuja, the Very Reverend Isaac Achi, cleric in charge of the church, said yesterday.

Boko Haram, a group which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to continue with more, Abu Qaqa, a spokesman for the group said yesterday in an e-mailed statement from the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

While the Nigerian police have arrested hundreds of suspected Islamic militants who are believed to have carried out attacks in parts of the north, the police need “strong evidence” to arrest the leaders of the group, Police Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Boko Haram Attacks

Authorities in Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million people blame Boko Haram for a surge of violence in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja in which hundreds of people have died in 2011. 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, officials said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dick Schumacher at

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