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Nigerian Violence After Militant Attacks Grips Two Towns

Nigerian troops fought Islamist militants in the northeastern town of Damaturu for a second day, while the death toll from clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna state rose to more than 140 over the past three days.

The fighting in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital, started after attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants yesterday, said Salihu Adamu, a police spokesman in the city. The state government imposed a 24-hour curfew in the city. In Kaduna, Muslim-Christian clashes have continued since the June 17 bombings of three churches in the state capital and Zaria. About 143 people have been killed in the violence, including 30 today, said Shehu Sani, the head of the Civil Rights Congress.

“Some people have been lynched, there are casualties from both sides,” Abubarak Aliyu, a member of the Civil Rights Congress, which is helping in rescue operations, said by phone from Kaduna. Shops and a church were set on fire, and the military has deployed troops to stop the violence, he said.

Boko Haram claimed reponsibility for the bombings in Kaduna and Zaria, saying it was retaliating for alleged attacks on Muslims and mosques.

“Boko Haram’s mounting efforts to incite inter-religious violence have increased religious tensions at a local, regional and indeed national level,” Roddy Barclay, a London-based analyst at Control Risks, said today in an e-mailed response to questions.

Violent Campaign

Boko Haram began its violent campaign in 2009 and says it wants to impose Islamic law on Africa’s top oil producer, which is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

“While further militancy and associated street pogroms in the north appear credible,” Barclay said, “a descent into large-scale inter-ethnic violence capable of undermining national stability” is unlikely.

The naira jumped 0.7 percent to 161 per dollar as of 2:27 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the highest since June 1. Yields on the nation’s $500 million of Eurobonds due 2021 slid five basis points to 5.5694 percent today.

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