NIGERIA’S CHRISTIANS IN PLEA TO HALT KILLINGS

LAGOS — Nigeria’s largest Christian body on Friday condemned attacks on the community which have left dozens dead over the Christmas period and heightened religious tensions months before a general election.

A series of Christmas Eve bomb blasts in the central city of Jos and reprisals killed at least 80 people, the emergency agency said, while in the northern city of Maiduguri, six people were killed in attacks on churches.

The attacks continued on Thursday, when suspected Islamists killed eight people, including three police, in Maiduguri.

“These acts of violence and arson against peace loving and law abiding Christians and our churches… must stop now as churches are not political/party offices,” the Christian Association of Nigeria said in a statement.

“There is a limit to human tolerance,” it warned in the statement, issued in Abuja at the end of an emergency meeting on the recent bloodshed.

The Christian body called on its members to observe a fast on January 1 and the first of each month for peace and unity.

Elections are scheduled to hold in Nigeria in April.

Police said they have arrested 92 suspected members of a radical Islamist sect in raids after the latest attacks in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.

A radical Islamic sect, calling itself Jama?atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda?Awati Wal Jihad, claimed responsibility for the Christmas eve attacks that killed dozens in Jos.

Jos is in the so-called middle-belt region between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south and has long been a hotspot of ethnic and religious friction in Nigeria.

Many attribute the unrest in Jos to the struggle for economic and political power between the Christian Beroms, seen as the indigenous ethnic group in the region, and the Hausa-Fulani Muslims, viewed as the more recent arrivals.

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